22. A book you once loved but now hate.
For this post I’m going to chose The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (Kim Edwards) which is the story of David, a doctor whose wife gives birth to twins one of whom has Down’s Syndrome. This book being set in 1964, attitudes were different from today and David decides to place his daughter in a home where nature can “take its course”. That decision has far-reaching consequences for all concerned; David, his wife (whom David tells the girl died), Paul (David’s son) and not least,Phoebe, the little girl and David’s nurse Caroline who doesn’t have the heart to leave the baby in the home and instead takes her home to raise her.
The stories of Phoebe and Paul (her brother) are told in parallel from the perspective of their various parents/guardians and later Paul also has a voice. The stories span 24 years and the moral message is very strong as Paul’s family falls apart as the result of his father’s lie whereas Phoebe’s family goes from strength to strength.
Without wanting to say too much, the first time I read the book I really related to some of the characters and found that they led me to look at my own life differently. I never liked Norah and found it extremely difficult to sympathise with her despite her horrible situation because she came across as incredibly selfish. The other characters however made a lot of sense to me and I found that I really cared about what happened to them. That was four years ago now but I found it was completely different when I reread it last year.
On the second reading I found that all the characters got on my nerves, Paul’s family were all far too self-absorbed whereas Phoebe’s were just a bit too perfect.
I think the main thing that changed is my life, there were some things going on in my life when I first read it which had resolved by the time I reread it and which probably changed the way I looked at the characters and the situations they were in.
It’s a shame because I really liked it the first time and rereading it has spoilt that memory but I suppose it can’t be helped. I may try it again in another couple of years just to see if my view changes again.