The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

The summary at the back of the book promises ‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter‘ to be a wonderful read. But that is just not the case. The problem is probably not in the book but in my expectations about the book. I expected it to focus on the problem of Down’s Syndrome but the book actually focuses on the emotions that develop following a single, life changing decision.

The story starts in 1964 when Norah Henry is giving birth. Her husband, Dr. David Henry, helps deliver his twins-one girl and one boy. However, the girl has Down’s Syndrome and therefore David orders his nurse, Caroline Gill to take the daughter, Phoebe, to an institution. Instead Caroline raises Phoebe as her own daughter. Norah has no idea about this and believes her daughter to be dead. This secret develops a gulf between the couple, their relationship starts deteriorating. David is weighed down by the secret while Norah is weighed down by the immense grief and sadness of knowing that her daughter died at birth. Paul, their son, is also affected because his parents’ sadness seeps into him as well. Caroline and Phoebe’s life story runs parallel to Henry’s’ story.

The story’s pace is rather slow for my taste. The narrative is enormously descriptive, very detailed. It is quite a sentimental book as it focuses on a host of complex and intricate emotions. I would have liked the book to have been more informative about Down’s Syndrome but unfortunately for me that doesn’t happen. The book has a sad feeling about it that completely pervades me. This as well as its continuous description of every little detail and every minute emotion makes the novel rather boring.

All in all, not a terrific read, a bit slow paced. I would rate it as average.