Monday, 13 August 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Kim Edwards

STORIES have a way of hanging on: give the people what they want and they'll come, as actor Red Skelton muttered at the funeral of the tyrannical movie mogul Louis B Meyer.

One is the story of the lost prince. It goes like this: the child is sent away by his father, given to soldiers to kill, usually because of a prophecy that the kid's bad news.

But the tender-hearted soldiers raise the kid as their own, and he comes back to wreak havoc.

Kim Edwards has mediated this story through Middle America. Here, the lost child is a girl twin, discarded because she's born with Down's Syndrome.

Her doctor father, David sends her away to be raised in a nursing-home, and tells her mother, Norah, that she's dead. But the nurse who takes her away runs with her, and raises her.

It's selling like crazy. Yet it's a curiously empty book.

It's selling because it tells an essential truth: the secret ill deed eats a hollow out of the centre of David and Norah's marriage, corrupting their concourse from within.

But it has the sugary everything-will-be-fineness of Steel Magnolias. Undoubtedly soon to be a major movie.

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