Reading Railroad: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter review

The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards, Published by Viking Press in June 2005, the novel garnered great interest via word of mouth in the summer of 2006 and placed on the New York Times Paperback Bestsellers List. The novel was adapted to television film and broadcast on Lifetime Television in April 2008.

Can we spell T-R-I-T-E?

Hailed as a literary masterpiece, the Memory Keeper’s Daughter from the very beginning is rampant with platitudes.

The story comes down to this: twins separated at birth with a bit of a twist. Garnering public sympathy (probably for the lack of creativity) by playing the mentally-challenged, but feisty child card.

Oh it’s touching enough. Dare I say overly-sentimental? If you allow it to, the story will rip tears from you, between well- worn scenes found throughout Harlequin romances. They are used creatively, almost hidden, but not quite.

Unfortunately, they pop out at us at the most inconvenient times. One scene at the beginning of the story when Doctor David Henry is remiscing about his beloved, pregnant wife. He remembers viewing her for the first time. “…she had risen out of the crowd like some kind of vision…”

Oh please. Really?

I think I read that line in one of the new mommy porns.

Some kind of vision? What kind?

Within the same over-extended paragraph that goes on and on (reminiscent of Saramago’s work), we are treated to another, second scene, “…her bent head revealing the elegant pale curve of her neck.”

I may be old. I may be prone to repeating myself but REALLY?

How many bent, lovely necks have we seen throughout romantic literature? It is “elegant” though. And of course, pale. Like the woman’s pale, elegant hands we read about in how many stories?

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Phoebe, is a twin born to Doctor Henry and his wife Norah during a Kentucky blizzard (how unlikely is that?). The Doctor sees the child has Down’s Syndrome and decides she must go to an institution. His nurse, Caroline Gill, who is also in love with the doctor, is charged with the task of taking the child, but not before we’re given the task of reading through, “The doctor had felt himself transported back in time.”

This is a brief, but purportedly moving and understandable justification for the continuation of this tired story and the doctor’s actions.

Doctor David lies to his wife, telling her the child has died. Upon viewing the institutional environment, Caroline decides to Keep the child. Gosh, we didn’t know that was coming!

Throughout the tale, the characters are all developmentally disabled, by their worn use. There is a story here, without any creativity. A list of the characters and their traits would be like taking a reluctant trip down memory lane for the avid reader.

An example: Paul, the other twin, defies his father at every opportunity and becomes a musician.

I think the author means to project that the psychic memory of Paul’s twin is so strong, that subconsciously he (and his mother) intuits Phoebe is still alive and cannot forgive his father for the lie.

The one creative mark I’ll give the author concern the parallel lines of family dynamics through history. Though I have seen this done successfully before, not often. In this case, and as reluctant as I am to give even a bit of credit to this author, this has been done well.

Reading the novel was not time well-spent and at my age I don’t have much time to waste. I have read this story in many others. I may be worn and tired, but I do not like my fiction that way.

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One thought on “Reading Railroad: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter review

  1. Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter « Jennifer Adventures

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