Englischsprachige Literatur

Edwards Kim

The Memory Keeper´s Daughter

Penguin Books, London 2007


Kim Edwards is a graduate of the Iowa Writers´Workshop and now professor of English at the University of Kentucky. In an annex to the book she is interviewed about the novel and tells the reader, how she came across her story.

We meet Dr. David Henry, an orthopaedist, and his young very pregnant wife Norah on a cold winter evening, when snow begins to fall in Lexington/Kentucky. But then Norah goes into labour, two weeks early. David drives her to his hospital, and when the gynaecologist has an accident and cannot be there in time, David delivers his own son, a healthy boy, assisted by his nurse Caroline Gill, who is secretly in love with the doctor. He is proud and happy, but then they notice that it is a twin birth, and to his shock Dr. Henry realizes, that the girl has Down´s Syndrome.

In his state of shock, and with the memory of the early death of his own ailing sister, he makes Caroline instantly take the baby away to an institution and decides to tell his wife, that the twin girl died at birth. When Caroline comes to the institution, she in her turn is so shocked, that she decides to disappear and raise the baby as her own.

Kim Edwards unfolds this “tale of regret and redemption” with great care and empathy for her different characters. And we follow the story from different points of view, so every character in the book comes into his or her own.

During the first half of the book the reader follows, mesmerized by Edwards´deeply felt compassion and ability to express it. Then you realize, that every person, young or old, thinks and feels along the same complicated patterns, mostly sorrow, fear, disappointment and resignation, and, naturally, guilt, and the thrill wears off considerably, although the reader has to follow the characters for almost forty years.

David, a keen and successful photographer, too, was given a camera by Norah with the name “memory keeper”, which Edwards turns into the excellent title of the novel.