rating: 3 of 5 stars
Like many of you, I saw The Memory Keeper's Daughter on Lifetime back in April -- I knew the basic plotline that a doctor in the 1960s delivers his own twins and he sends one of them away because she has Down Syndrome. Well, the movie truly touched me and I was a heap of tears when my husband came home from work that night. I can still even remember the images of Norah burning the photos after David's death, Caroline fighting for Phoebe in the Board of Education hall and the final reunion. Usually books are better than the movie version, but not in this case. The book felt too heavy in some places and too light in others. Kim Edwards went overboard with describing sycamore trees and hands, but she didn't spend enough time with Paul after he learns he has a twin sister. Edwards places far too much emphasis on David's turning point (p.17) when he chooses to give Phoebe away ("The silence was so deep and encompassing that he felt himself floating to a new height, some point above this room and then beyond, where he was one with the snow and where this scene in the room was something unfolding in a different life"). Could a dead baby really cause this much guilt? Could Norah have lied to David about birth control and had another baby? Could Norah have dug up Phoebe's "grave" on Dr. Bentley's property. (by the way, did Dr. Bentley know the secret?)
As a first novel, The Memory Keeper is pretty good, but there were some plot holes. My book club and I were wondering why didn't David not tell Norah they had twins -- why say anything at all? She didn't know she was carrying twins and she didn't remember much of the birth. Also, I found it so false that Norah couldn't find Paul in Europe after David died -- come on, now! and Paul didn't seem as affected that he just lost his dad.
Edwards uses 3rd person point of view with 4 viewpoints: David, Norah, Caroline and Paul. David is by far the most complex and well-drawn. He does evolve as a character and realizes all of the wrong he did, when he thought he was doing right. Also, Edwards did a very nice job of characterizing Phoebe and not making her a stereotype, although she did say she was chubby quite a few times.
Many times the novel took turns that no one could predict and there were places where the characters could have committed suicide (Norah with the car exhaust, Paul with the train, David with the cliff), but nothing horrible happened. I also felt the plotline of Rosemary and Jack was superflous -- the movie cut them out entirely, as they did with Doro and Leo.
This is a memorable read and an excellent book club book when you discuss it with enthusiastic people! 3 out of 4 stars.
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