This is a wonderfully unique story Ms Edwards creates characters very real and situations that are effectively believable After delivering his wife s first child, while she is unaware of what is happening, he delivers another child, this one with Down s syndrome He makes a quick decision to spare his wife the heartbreak of raising this child and asks his nurse to place the child in an institution The nurse takes the infant but raises it on her own.
There is always something not quite right about their relationship He becomes obsessed with photography and draws away from his wife and even his son Mrs Henry decides to remake her life and starts a job in a travel agency, which she eventually buys and thrives at this business.
The story moves flawlessly between Henry, Caroline and Phoebe Much is learned about raising a Down s child and about the power of love.
I think this is a wonderful book club book with many issues to talk about How decisions are made and the price we pay for the wrong ones There are great characters and moral issues to be discussed and insights to be learned.
On A Winter Night In , Dr David Henry Is Forced By A Blizzard To Deliver His Own Twins His Son, Born First, Is Perfectly Healthy Yet When His Daughter Is Born, He Sees Immediately That She Has Down S Syndrome Rationalizing It As A Need To Protect Norah, His Wife, He Makes A Split Second Decision That Will Alter All Of Their Lives Forever He Asks His Nurse To Take The Baby Away To An Institution And Never To Reveal The Secret But Caroline, The Nurse, Cannot Leave The Infant Instead, She Disappears Into Another City To Raise The Child Herself So Begins This Story That Unfolds Over A Quarter Of A Century In Which These Two Families, Ignorant Of Each Other, Are Yet Bound By The Fateful Decision Made That Long Ago Winter Night Norah Henry, Who Knows Only That Her Daughter Died At Birth, Remains Inconsolable Her Grief Weighs Heavily On Their Marriage And Paul, Their Son, Raises Himself As Best He Can, In A House Grown Cold With Mourning Meanwhile, Phoebe, The Lost Daughter, Grows From A Sunny Child To A Vibrant Young Woman Whose Mother Loves Her As Fiercely As If She Were Her Own Man I hated this book the plot had some great potential, but instead you got to witness one scene of frustrated people not knowing how to deal with their emotions after another Seriously, imagine 60 someodd pages of wife I m sad, darling, talk to me husband we can t have another baby silencefollowed by wife being angry and husband yet again being emotionally stuntedok, fine, I see that it s a result of him giving away their daughter with downs syndrome, but I just wouldn t end After about 10 of these scenes, we get the point Then we progress to 60 pages of a new hell son dad, I love music, you don t know who I am father son, don t limit yourself to only this option once again, fine as a single scene, but we have to endure it again and AGAIN Then the book adds some completely random characters, has people reflect on life ad nauseum, and basically does nothing to make you care about any of the characters Also, despite basing an entire story around the mistake of giving up a child because of a mental disability, it gave absolutely no credit to the young girl who has downs syndrome She s of a prop than a person, no part of the story is told from her perspective, and asside from the desire to marry her boyfriend, never gets the chance to show the world what she wants and feels Great job reaffirming stereotypes My boss loved this book, and some of my coworkers thought it was OK, but obviously I thought it was bad enough to write a barely cohesive rant rather than a review This book was a waste of time and paper.
At first I couldn t pinpoint exactly why I was not enjoying a book that sounded as though it would be my kind of book in every way, but the I read and the I thought about it, the reasons emerged From the beginning of the novel there were little details that bothered me The plot often felt contrived, as pieces fell together too nicely Of course life is crazy and there is always the possibility of the little pieces falling in the most peculiar way, but when all of your characters lives seem to follow that incredible pattern, it begins to feel ridiculous Some of the characters themselves also became clich s Perhaps I reached a certain point in the story where I began to look for things that bothered me and therefore found them readily than other readers Yet, Norah, the mother of the twins, and her sister, Bree seem to never really develop Bree is the young, free loving free spirit who is thus almost a danger to Norah s thoughts on life and that is what she remains, even when older and diagnosed with cancer although Norah does come to appreciate her Norah, whose life unravels for a bit after she thinks her daughter has died, drinks too much and then begins having affairs, and this is who she remains for most of the novel The characters just seemed too much like a sappy Lifetime movie for me to really take them inside of me and keep with me I was also very disappointed in the character of Phoebe, the Down s syndrome daughter given away by her father She was the driving force of the novel and yet we really never know her other than glimpses through the eyes of Caroline Paul, her twin brother, is given thoughts but Phoebe s mind remains a mystery I understand the difficulty in writing honestly for a character with Down s but I kept thinking of the autistic narrator in Haddon s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time who was so rich and incredible and believable if you haven t read this one, please do I just thought that Edwards had a mission in humanizing those who suffer Down s syndrome and that she herself undermines her purpose with the complete omission of Phoebe s voice I wanted to know this child as a child and not as a sad plot device In all fairness, however, I have to say that I did love certain passages, as Edwards poetic language captured me wholly In the end, I think that my largest issue with this book was the absolute destruction of this family I know that what happened at the birth of the babies was tragic and life changing but I felt as though it was a bit contrived that it drove every emotion and interaction afterwards for the remainder of the characters lives Perhaps, for me, it just made their bonds from the beginning suspect as their destruction was made so inevitable by that one tragic mistake I didn t believe it and perhaps, because we read to understand others and to change ourselves, I do not want to believe it.
I read a bunch of reviews of this book prior to reading it myself, and wasn t sure whether or not I would enjoy it.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked this book quite a bit, and here s why 1 The story was fascinating What would I have done in that situation It was fun to imagine myself as Norah, Caroline, David or Paul and determine if my actions would mirror theirs, or if I would have done things differently 2 The metaphors and imagery that Edwards uses are captivating For example, she describes crocuses shouting and a wedge of air coming through an open door The juxtaposition of physical characteristics ascribed to inanimate objects, and the fusion of opposites added texture to the story.
Going along with that, she used the wind as a metaphor unrest, loneliness, loss, guilt, shame, it spoke a different language to each of the characters and manifested itself in interesting ways The obsessive compulsive picture taking, the drive to make sense of the world, the bones, the running, the travel all of these were terrific physical manifestations of inner turmoil, some blatant, others, subtle reminders of the loss.
3 Edwards descriptive abilities made it seem that I was in the room with the characters She pointed out the pattern of sunlight cascading through the windows, or other mundane details that so many other authors gloss over or ignore because they are too busy telling about events that happen I realize that in some cases this can be construed as dragging, boring, or slow but Edwards used such beautiful, interesting language to describe those things, that it made the story come alive for me, and I felt like I was a participant observer, rather than just an observer.
4 One of my personal fascinations is tracking and tracing the pivotal points in people s lives that determine who they really are Naturally this book was all about how one seemingly right decision affected dozens of lives How would they have been different if different decision were made The only really bothersome thing was that nobody triumphed over the lossno matter how hard they triedso, is this a cautionary tale to always tell the truth To not make decisions based on how you think someone will react, but to give them the agency to decide that for themselves I understand how the outcomes of each of the characters happened, but also would have liked to have seen some triumph and salvation and perhaps that s what Rosemary and Jack were supposed to be, at least for David He couldn t fix his own family so he spent his time fixing others literally and figuratively And, I guess, ultimately Phoebe and Caroline triumphedI just don t like to believe that suffering a loss reduces us to throwing our lives to the wind I want to think that peace and hope can still be found.
This is one of those books that I always see people reading in parks and on the subway, and I just want to shout at them, Save yourself There s still time to quit reading Really, it s one of those books that has an interesting premise situation, but doesn t go anywhere The interesting premise is this a couple has twins and the father sneaks away with the one twin who has Downs Syndrome The mother doesn t know about this baby and it s raised by the father s coworker You re interested, right Well, watch out, because after the initial birth scene, which is good, nothing happens for 200 pages The author drags you through the book, dangling the moment that the mother finds out about her daughter in front of you If this had been an actual good, daring book, it would have started at the point where the mother finds out about her long lost daughter Instead, it ends there Cop out Waste of time Emotionally empty Wow, I m really torn as to what to say about this book I will start by saying that Kim Edwards is a skilled writer and there s no taking that away from her Her words flow beautifully and that was greatly appreciated by me.
I began reading this book and fell in love with it From the beginning, I was very sure that I was going to rate it with five stars I was intrigued by the premise It s 1964 and a doctor s wife gives birth to twins The twins were unexpected no ultrasounds back then and so the second baby, a girl with Down s Syndrome, was a shock In the panic of a moment, the doctor, who had lost his own sister when she was 12 due to a heart problem , panics and gives his newborn daughter, Phoebe, to his nurse, Caroline He wants to spare his wife and himself the pain of having a child with Down Syndrome who might not live long Caroline takes the baby to the home, but when she gets there, she realizes she cannot leave the child in such a wretched place and makes a split second decision to keep her as her own The author skillfully goes back and forth between the doctor s family, David and Norah Henry and their son, Paul and Caroline s life with the girl, Phoebe I was intrigued.
Somewhere, around page 175, I started not liking the book so much What had been a taut, interesting story, started taking little side trips that I felt tarnished the characters and didn t stay within what I thought the author had set up But I didn t want to dislike the book for this reason, because I don t expect the author to go where I might go or where I might have liked to see her go Still, the things that were going on kept nagging at me and making me uneasy in a way that I don t think were intended to make me uneasy.
I began to care less and less about the characters, but stayed with the book because it was interesting to see where it went and I had already invested so much time in reading it There were too many long descriptions of things that didn t matter to me, and no matter how hard I tried, I didn t get to know the characters in the way I thought I should.
I am stuck in the middle In the end, I didn t really care for it all too much, but cannot say that others would not I give the writer kudos for being so skilled with the English language I didn t really care about any of the characters very much in the end, if at all, and I think that s what really soured me on this book This is a hard one for me to judge If you re at all interested, read it for yourself and see what you think.
This book was terrible, not because it was bad, but because it was so good I couldn t put it down until I finished the final pages at 3 in the morning Not a good thing, when your alarm goes off at 5 50 AM.
What fascinates me about this book is what it has to say about secrets The basic premise a doctor is forced to deliver his wife s child in the middle of a raging snowstorm The only complication is that she s actually carrying twins the first, a healthy beautiful baby boy the second, a Downs Syndrome baby girl The year is 1964, when such children are regularly institutionalized after all, babies like this rarely survive long anyway, and even if they do, their quality of life is marginal at best.
As a doctor, David Henry knows his daughters prognosis full well, and rather than force his young wife Norah to deal with such a tragedy, he makes a snap decision to try and protect her from a lifetime of unspeakable grief His solution hand the defective daughter to his nurse to deliver to an institution, while he informs his wife of the tragedy she delivered twins, but her daughter did not survive childbirth She is dead Gone.
With that simple little secret, the future is inescapably changed, his doom is sealed unbeknownst to anyone, the nurse flees into hiding to raise the child as her own.
The rest of the book is riveting, because we get to see firsthand the effects of his fall on his relationship with his wife, his son, and eventually everyone else around him It s a tragic book I m not sure I could read it again , because it s not Hollywood it s brutally true to the lives that many of us have experienced ourselves.
The one ray of hope comes unexpectedly, as David Henry confesses everything no secrets to a young woman with child In the silence David started talking again, trying to explain at first about the snow and the shock and the scalpel flashing in the harsh light How he has stood outside himself and watched himself moving in the world How he had woken up every morning of his life for eithteen years thinking maybe today, maybe this was the day he would put things right But Phoebe was gone and he couldn t find her, so how could he possibly tell Norah The secret had worked its way through their marriage, an insidious vine, twisting she drank too much, and then she began having affairs, that sleazy realtor at the beach, and then the others he s tried not to notice, to forgive her, for he knew that in some real sense the fault was his Photo after photo, as if he could stop time or make an image powerful enough to obscure the moment when he had turned and handed his daughter to Caroline Gill He had handed his daughter to Caroline Gill and that act had led him here, years later, to this girl in motion of her own, this girl who had decided yes, a brief moment of release in the back of a car or in the room of a silent house, this girl who had stood up later, adjusting her clothes, with no knowledge of how that moment was already shaping her life She cut paper and listened Her silence made him free He talked like a river, like a storm, words rushing through the old house with a force and life he could not stop At some point he began to weep again, and he could not stop that either Rosemary made no comment whatsoever He talked until the words slowed, ebbed, finally ceased Silence welled She did not speak All right, she said at last You re free And this single act of honesty produces the deepest intimacy he has ever experienced it s not sexual, but relational with a human being who knows the very worst about him and yet who does not reject him for it You can read the whole review here Will someone please explain to me why, at my age, and I should know better, I m stilled swayed by the words No 1 N.
Y Times Bestseller I found this for fifty cents at my library s used book sale last week A warning I clearly ignored But it had a good title, a beautiful, mysterious cover, and lots of people are reading it Lots of people watch Oprah and The View , too About halfway through the first paragraph I realized, too late to get my fifty cents back, that this is CHICK LIT Not even goofy, over the top fun chick lit, but takes itself waaay too serious chick lit pretending to be literature The subtitle of this preposterous premised book, choked with a mountain of useless detail, should have been My Hidden Breastfeeding Agenda, Brought to You By the La Leche League She goes on, on, on, and on about the milk rising , and other numerous references to the Joy of Breastfeeding At least in the first chapters Then she drops it like a hot potato, busily filling the pages with endless detail about patterns on people s clothing and how the ground looks Instead of working on character development Anyway, the plot is just too much Husband Pretends Handicapped Baby is Born Dead Keeps Big Secret From Wife and Marriage is NEVER THE SAME Well, duh.
The main characters, except Caroline, are wholly unlikeable.
The writing is beyond tolerable my eyes rolled so often they hurt.
Edwards clearly has The Writer s Guide to Trite and The Big Book of Cliches on her reference shelf Ugh Why do rooms always have to be small but immaculate Also, while casuarina trees and bougainvillea exist on Aruba, the trademark tree is the Divi divi, and cacti are typical than flowers Let me guess, Edwards has never been there, right And note to author You don t know your ass from a hole in the ground about photography Photography is about secrets she writes Whaaaa I thought it was about revelation and discovery Thanks, Kim, I ll bring my diploma from R.
T to work tomorrow and shred it in the shredder And my friends out there, if you ever hear me coin a phrase like Memory Keeper in reference to me being a photographer, please walk quietly up behind me and smash my skull in with a baseball bat At least that will be pleasurable than reading this book.