Book Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Following on from my recent post about reading for fun, I completed the first book on the list some time ago but am only now getting around to writing about it. So is life! It was Kim Edward’s The Memory Keeper’s Daughter that was first on the pile and it was not my usual cup of tea.


The first thing I have to say about this book is there are some quite forgettable elements. Sitting down to write this post I realised I could not remember any of the character’s names. I recall the events – Doctor’s wife goes into labour with twins, one of which has Downs Syndrome. This daughter is then spirited away by the Doctor’s colleague who is a nurse who then raises her as her own. The book then charts the disintegration of the Doctor’s marriage and the parallel lives of the twins. But who’s who? Not a clue I’m afraid. Maybe it’s just because I’m useless at names.

It’s a very slow burner. Putting it down at the end of an evening I wasn’t gripped with fever to know desperately what happens next. Instead, it was a gentle intrigue that made me go back for more. The book itself covers twenty years and does so very well, covering the changing views towards Downs children and disability through the focus of one child. The characters are believable and subtly written.

The book is not about disability or raising children with a syndrome such as Downs. It is about the breakdown of a relationship due to the secrets that we may keep. I found myself constantly shouting at the characters in my mind ‘just bloody talk to each other!’ Sadly, as if often the case when reading, no one listened to me and everyone continued to grow further and further apart.

Kim’s style is simple and flowing, and it was never a struggle to get through a chapter. I don’t often read general fiction, being much more of a sic-fi/fantasy fan most of the time, so the break from large chunks of description and setting was a blessed relief to me.

There was also a movie version made with Dermot Mulroney and Gretchen Mol in 2008 that I think I may search for and have a watch of. Though the names may have been forgettable the characters were well-crafted and rounded and I really did feel for them throughout. I’d like to see how well it translates to film just to see if it as big of a disappointment as some others I have watched recently.

So there we go. A book read for fun. Let’s hope the next one is just as good.


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