Kirsten handed me a copy of Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter a week ago. She said it was a book I had to read, and I think she’s also been trying to pan off her books on people she know will respect and care for them, since she moved into her new apt. in a bid to create space for the multiple new ones she’s going to get now that she’s got her fancy editorial assistant job.
Set in Kentucky the The Memory Keeper’s daughter starts with a snowy night in 1964 where a split second decision charts an unconventional path for it’s characters and affects the next two decades of the people that it is touched by. Kim Edwards who previously published The Secrets of a fire king a collection of short stories, publishes her first full length novel with this book.
There is no doubt that Edwards is a brilliant writer, her imagery is startlingly precise and the narrative flows in an almost dreamlike way. Her words hold a soft focus lens on the plot, blurry in the right places though the too even pace could make it slow in places to an impatient reader like myself. Having said that I still was not able to put it down, choosing to burn the midnight oil in order to see the story lie down to rest. Most importantly The Memory keeper’s Daughter is a treatise on the fact that our lives are only a series of decisions, ones that could take us down drastically disparate pathways to painful and unanswerable “what ifs.” It is a story of the basest instincts of man, all the way from monstrous selfishness to unprecedented kindness, there will be some point in the story for every reader where they will see a character make a choice that they would if they were in a similar situation.
Kim Edwards writing style is very similar to Jhumpa Lahiri (The interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake). They both have a muted, elegant way of writing that could only come from a woman’s pen. And since I am a rabid JL fan, I am happy to read any works similar to hers. If I were Roger and Ebert, I’d be “two thumbs up”-ing ‘The Memory Keeper’s daughter” to everyone I know.