Okay, folks. Mark your calendars because this is a monumental day. I am abandoning a book!!!! Unlike most book bloggers out there, I usually read only one book at a time, and I do not give up on books. They have to be almost appallingly bad, offensive, and due at the library tomorrow with no renewals for me to give up. Heck, I even skimmed to the end of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman even as I wept for the many trees that died for those books to be printed. (Yes, I know some of you probably loved those books. But I did not like them. At. All. Thinking about them now makes my head hurt. I do, however, know and like several people who did enjoy these books, and thinking about those people doesn’t make my head hurt one bit, so please, if you like these books, keep liking them. Just don’t ask me to give them another chance.)
However, as my TBR pile grows, I’m coming to the conclusion that I simply shouldn’t waste my time on books that I don’t enjoy. If I do, I’ll never get around to trying Georgette Heyer, Barbara Pym, or Penelope Fitzgerald; I’ll never finish working my way through Thomas Hardy’s body of work (and then going back through them all again). I’ll never have time to reread my beloved Austens, Tolkiens, Sayers, or (lest you think I’m a dreadful snob) my Gunslinger books by Stephen King.
So, even though The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is proving to be a quick read (I read the first fourth of the book in a little over a hour), I’m just not going to spend any more time on it. Now, I will say that it’s not a terrible book—it’s not nearly as annoying as Outlander. If I were reading it for book club, I would finish it and wouldn’t be totally cranky about it. But, still, it’s not for me.
So why don’t I like it? Well, it’s not the disturbing storyline. (It’s 1964. A doctor and his wife have twin children. The daughter is born with Down syndrome, so the father has her sent away and tells his wife she died. The nurse who was at the delivery raises the child in secret.) The dark premise is the best thing about the book. I would have been better off reading the back cover and imagining what Ruth Rendell would have done with it. (And believe you me, she could have worked some serious mojo on this premise.)
The trouble is, Kim Edwards takes this dark premise and bathes it in annoying metaphors and imagery, as in this description of the moments after delivery:
The doctor was then intent on delivering the placentas, which came out beautifully, dark and thick, each the size of a small plate. Fraternal twins, male and female, one visibly perfect and the other marked by an extra chromosome in every cell of her body. What were the odds of that? His son lay in the carrier, his hands waving now and then, fluid and random with the quick, water motions of the womb.
Okay, I’m not easily grossed out, but the word placenta and plate do not belong in the same sentence, ever.
And then there’s the nurse: “Caroline Gill was thirty-one, and she had been waiting a long time for her real life to begin.” Okay, lady, you’re thirty-one—you’re living your real life. But apparently she needs a baby for real life to begin. Also, a truck driver who appears out of nowhere—twice. Whatever. And Edwards feels compelled to explain everyone’s feelings because these people are so inscrutable. Only they’re not.
Clearly, I am not the intended audience for this book. This kind of thing just doesn’t appeal to me. But lots of other people have loved this book, and I’m glad that it will be going off to a better home with amandasue, who won my copy in my “What Should I Read in October?” giveaway. Amandasue, I really hope you enjoy it more than I did. But, hey, there’s one more off my bookshelf, and I’ve crossed a hurdle in my bookish life! So hooray!