Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards | LibraryThing

Edwards, K. (2005). The memory keeper’s daughter. New York: Viking. 9780786571031

Reasons for Reading : One of my friends asked me to read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. (Check out its entry on my TBR list.) Initially, I checked it out from HCPL. Then, I found I could check it out in eBook format from Houston Public Library.  I did this so I could read it on my Nook during my vacation.

Summary: Due to a blizzard in 1964 Kentucky, Dr. David Henry delivers his own twins. First, David delivers a healthy son, Paul. After delivering his daughter, Phoebe, David sees that she has Down Syndrome. Wanting to spare his wife, Norah, heartache, David asks his loyal nurse, Caroline Gill, to secretly institutionalize his daughter. Caroline, though, leaves Kentucky with the baby girl and raises her as her own daughter.  This split second decision changes the lives of David, Norah, Caroline, and their children.

What I Liked: The language of the narrative is lovely. Also, I felt David’s motives were well-explained by the author. He seemed earnest and loving. Norah’s relationship with her sister, Bree. I truly admired Caroline for her love and heroism. It was a relief to me that Caroline created a family of friends for her daughter, Phoebe. Lastly, I found the photography motif beautiful.

What I Disliked: Towards the end of the book, I wondered if Edwards just didn’t know what to do with it. She added in some characters in the eleventh hour to help resolve conflicts. Throughout the book, I wanted to throttle the good doctor and say “Tell your wife that your daughter lives!”

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Kentucky Rain-Lyrics-Elvis Presley – YouTube

Setting : Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Aruba, France

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For more on Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, check out the following sites:

Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book

People of the book by Geraldine Brooks | LibraryThing

Brooks, G., & OverDrive, Inc. (2008). People of the book: A novel. New York, N.Y: Viking. 9781429591065

Reasons for Reading : As I sought eAudio, I stumbled upon Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book. While I enjoyed listening to the book, I realized I wouldn’t be able to finish listening to it before it was due. Thus, I checked out the eBook and downloaded it to my Nook.

Summary: Australian rare-book expert Hanna Heath receives an outstanding offer: to analyze and conserve the Sarajevo Haggadah when it’s recovered in 1996 during the Bosnian War. The Sarajevo Haggadah is one of the earliest Jewish texts to have illustrations. Quickly, Hanna finds peculiarities about the book – a wing of an insect, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair, and missing clasps. While Hanna examines this priceless piece of history, the reader goes on a journey in reverse chronological order – making stops in 1940s Sarajevo, 1894 Vienna, 1609 Venice, 1492 Tarragona, and 1480 Seville, visiting the people who physically impacted the Haggadah.

What I Liked : Author Brooks spins and weaves a fascinating saga. These people of the book elicit a broad range of emotions from me. I liked that Hanna seemed to unite everyone in her work with the Haggadah and I appreciated that she spoke directly to the reader whereas the other sections of the story were told in the third person. Hanna did have values and adhered to them even when it hurt her. I pitied her when it came to her relationship with her mother and that she had no clue about her father’s identity. I learned much about Haggadahs and Jewish history in Europe.

What I Disliked : So, Hanna wasn’t the only one telling the story in first person. This was confusing to me and I believe Brooks did this to mislead the reader. Also, some of the characters that I imagine were supposed to be sympathetic were not. When I didn’t care about the characters, the book dragged. Sometimes, the details were gratuitous and Brooks seemed to come across as magnanimous in her “We’re all in this together” theme.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: The Kingston Trio – Where have all the flowers gone? – YouTube

Setting : Australia, Sarajevo, Germany, Vienna, Venice,  Boston, Tarragona Spain, Seville, Jerusalem

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For more on Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book, check out the following sites:

Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay | LibraryThing

Rosnay, T. . (2010). Sarah’s key. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. 9781250004345

Reasons for Reading : I recalled my mom reading this book a few years before the movie hit American theaters. Also, working on my library’s contribution to the Holocaust Museum Houston’s Butterfly Project led me to Sarah’s Key. I checked out the book from HCPL.

Summary: Beginning in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942, the French police arrest a ten year-old girl and her family in the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. The girl manages to lock her younger brother in a secret cupboard in the family’s apartment. She promises to return in a few hours.

The girl’s story alternates with that Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in 2002 Paris with her French husband and daughter. Her editor asks her to write an article commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup. As Julia investigates, she stumbles upon a fateful connection to Sarah, that little girl who stowed her brother in the secret cupboard. This link may lead to better living for Julia or the undoing of her marriage.

What I Liked : Author de Rosnay created rich characters in Sarah and Julia. The latter narrated her of the novel and de Rosnay conveyed the thoughts of an American outcast quite authentically. Sarah’s point of view was related in third person.

I adored Jules and Genevieve. These people offer hope for humanity. They’re the sort that deserve Nobel Peace Prizes.

Also, I found it sobering to learn the French police’s involvement in the Holocaust. It just shows how far brainwashing can go.

What I Disliked : This story made me very sad. Obviously, the key issues weren’t the happiest. I promise that I went into reading this book with my eyes open.

The first part of the book alternated between Sarah’s 1942 and Julia’s 2002. Then, the second part of the book didn’t. Without revealing the end, I wasn’t too keen on losing one of those points of view.

Before I forget, Julia’s husband was horrendous!

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Linkin Park – In The End – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France, Germany, Poland, New York City, Boston, Italy

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For more on Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key, check out the following sites:


Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer | LibraryThing

Shaffer, M. A., & Barrows, A. (2008). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. New York, N.Y: The Dial Press. 9780385340991

One friend of mine noticed this most curious title on the NYT Bestsellers list. The name compelled her to request the book via HCPL and read it. She recommended it highly for two years. So, this summer, I requested it myself. The book was a collaborative effort between the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows.

Shaffer and Barrows tell their tale through correspondence; this is an epistolary novel. The letters begin in early 1946. London writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from Dawsey Adams from the Channel Islands, Guernsey to be exact. Dawsey is the current owner of a Charles Lamb book which once belonged to Juliet. Their correspondence leads to discussion of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club which met on Guernsey Island during the German Occupation. Through many letters, Juliet discovers the light of literature and new friends.

While I felt the book slow in the beginning, I soon found myself riveted. I enjoyed several of the characters and I loved how the authors allowed the characters to speak for themselves. Juliet was my favorite character. At a point fairly early in the book, Juliet requests references from two people – a man who will sing her praises and a woman who will expose all of Juliet’s warts. Juliet’s spirit leapt from the pages. While this takes place after World War II in England, negativity and bleakness are part of the picture. However, these people rise above this and look forward to their brighter futures. 

So, when’s the movie coming to a theater near me?

Four of Five Pearls

Song: ‪Mr Postman – the Marvelettes High Quality‬‏ – YouTube

Setting : Guernsey, Channel Islands, London, England, France, Germany

You might also like:

  •  Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

For more on Shaffer and Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, please check out the following links:

Top Ten Favorite Love Stories In Books | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers’ answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can’t come up with ten, don’t worry about it—post as many as you can!

NEXT WEEK THE TOPIC IS: Top Ten Book to Movie adaptations (for those movies that actually didn’t butcher the book!) See a list of future TTT here.

However, this week’s challenge is Top Ten Favorite Love Stories in Books. So, here goes . . .

  1. Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg: The honorable Cornish knight Tristan follows orders of his uncle, King Mark, to escort his uncle’s comely bride, the Princess Isolde. Isolde possesses a magic love potion which she and her betrothed are to share. However, Isolde and Tristan have the drink.
  2. Katherine by Anya Seton: This historical fiction novel features the story of the remarkable Katherine Swynford. This real person caught the attention of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. While they didn’t marry until close to the end of their lives, this story resonates to this days.
  3. Othello by William Shakespeare: I made myself only select one Shakespeare play. Othello the Moor marries the fair Desdemona. Desdemona chooses Othello over the foppish men of Venetian childhood and loves Othello eternally. However, the evil Iago turns Othello into the green-eyed monster.
  4. “Sonnets from the Portuguese” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: the sickly and hermetic Elizabeth believes herself to be dying. However, her fortune takes a turn for the better with the young, dashing Robert Browning.
  5. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough: It’s a little seamy but still deserves mention. Meggie falls in love with Ralph de Briccasart, the Roman Catholic priest.
  6. The Divine Comedy by Dante: Forget Francesca and Paola, I’m talking about Dante the Pilgrim and his ladylove, Beatrice. He admired her so much that in his writing, Beatrice guides him through Heaven.
  7. Atonement by Ian McEwan: Dilettante Cecilia Tallis and overachieving Robbie Turner unite in a pivotal way, changing the two permanently. When Robbie loses favor, Cecelia remains at his side.
  8. Beauty and the Beast by  Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve:  This story strikes similar chords to that of King Lear. The youngest daughter, Belle, is the truest beauty. She stays at the Beast’s Castle to make up for what her father did. When she sees this brute suffering, she cries over him.
  9. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: Even though I absolutely abhor the sexual violence (rape even) and Rand’s masogyny, this is a remarkable story of love.  Roark and Dominique bring out the best in one another and have a happier end than most.
  10. The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich: This is probably my favorite love triangle in literature. Stephanie Plum’s attention is coveted by Joe Moretti and Ranger. These days, I root for Ranger.

Apologize and Atonement by Ian McEwan

* 1001 Books Book

Cover shows the old, dreary Tallis house.

Cover shows the old, dreary Tallis house.

McEwan, I., & Tanner, J. (2002). Atonement. Prince Fredrick, MD: Recorded Books.

Seeing the blurbs for the movie based on this book and hearing OneRepublic’s “Apologize” immediately influenced me to request Ian McEwan’s Atonement. Having heard much about the author, I was curious to how well McEwan could deliver. Soon, the audiobook was telling me the story in my car.

It’s a hot summer day in 1935 England. The upper class Tallis household abounds with activity, especially the young, thirteen year old Briony. Briony is an aspiring writer with a great imagination. She has just penned a play for her grown brother Leon’s homecoming. She desperately wants her cousins, the stunning Lola, and twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, to perform her play, The Trials of Arabella. Feeling her thunder stolen by Lola, Briony just happens to see something going on at the fountain between her older sister Cecilia and the charlady’s son, Robbie Turner. Only viewing and not hearing the exchange between the two Cambridge students, Briony holds sinister suspicions. Ditching her play and her cousins, Briony’s imagination runs away with her.

Meanwhile, the focus of the novel shifts to and from various points of view, including the seeming dilettante Cecilia, the intelligent and scholarly Robbie, and the wise, migraine plagued matriarch, Emily Tallis. These views elucidate for the reader what has actually happened. The evening arrives, bringing on the entrance of playboy Leon and social equal Paul Marshall. When there is a nasty turn of events that night, Briony jumps to conclusions, changing the lives of all present at the Tallis household that summer evening in 1935. From this point onward, Briony longs for atonement.

Like many a psyche, Atonement is a very complex. Divided into four parts, the novel delves into the thoughts and motives behind numerous characters. Also, the book deals with numerous issues; social implications, morality, guilt, and responsibility. The dimension brought to Briony Tallis simply amazed me. In Atonement, the reader meets Briony as a child, a young adult, and a septuagenarian. In each phase, Briony is different and yet the same. Latter parts of the book illustrate World War II scenes of Dunkirk and a hospital in London with sharp clarity.

Another part of Atonement I admired was how Briony’s actions in 1935 resonate throughout the rest of the book. Responsibility as a human and as a writer becomes piercingly acute. Whether or not she gains much desired atonement is open for interpretation.

Nonetheless, I was not crazy about the choppy transitions from Part I to Parts II and III. Part I gave readers such as myself insight on the thoughts of many. After Part I, several of the characters react almost implausibly or evaporate by Part II. While I appreciated the introduction to Cecilia’s great intellect, Robbie’s tenderness, and even Briony’s shame, I missed other characters such as Emily Tallis and the cousins in other parts of the book.

Atonement is a book I will not soon forget. The plot twists, the conception of characters, the peppering of other works of literature throughout Atonement, etc, etc make for a moving read. This book has definitely raised the bar for many others.

Despite the ending, I give the book 4 out of 5 Pearls.

Places: Cambridge University, Dunkirk, London, UK

Music Brought to Mind: “Apologize” by OneRepublic