My first attempt at a reivew - hope it's OK.
"It should have been an ordinary birth, the start of an ordinary happy family. But the night Dr David Henry delivers his wife's twins is a night that will haunt five lives for ever. For though David's son is a healthy boy, his daughter has Down's syndrome and, in a shocking act of betrayal whose consequences only time will reveal, he tells his wife their daughter died, while secretly entrusting her care to a nurse. As grief quietly tears apart David's family, so a little girl must make her own way in the world as best she can."
I was really gripped by this book. When David hands his daughter to the nurse (Caroline), he tells her to take her to a home he has heard about where she will be cared for, but when Caroline gets there and sees what an awful place it is, she decides to take the baby home with her. The book then spans the next 25 years, as David suffers terrible guilt about giving his daughter away, and his wife Norah grieves for the child she believes died at birth. Their marriage slowly falls apart and David is distanced from his son, Paul.
Meanwhile, Caroline faces shocking prejudice as she tries to get medical treatment and a mainstream education for the daughter, Phoebe. Kim Edwards says in an interview at the back of the book that such negative attitudes towards people with Down's syndrome, which might seem outrageous to us today, were widely held and accepted at the time the book is set (the 1960s/70s).
She also says that she didn't want to portray David as an evil person - she says he acted out of what he believed were good intentions. I think she succeeds in helping us to understand why David did what he did, even if we don't agree with it. We learn that his family suffered a terrible tragedy during his childhood which has a great bearing on why David decided to give his daughter away and why he feels such an overriding need to protect his son.
This is a really heart-rending, beautifully written book, which certainly gives the reader a lot to think about.
Currently Reading: Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure - Joanne Harris