It’s 1964 and snowing heavily. A small town doctor is unable to transport his pregnant wife to the delivery room and she gives birth in his clinic with the assistance of his nurse. Unexpectedly, the wife gives birth to twins and the second child, a girl, is clearly suffering from Down’s Syndrome. The doctor makes a hasty decision to hide this potential tragedy from his wife and gives the child to his nurse to transport to an institution. The nurse rejects this option and secretly decides to raise the girl as her own. She moves to another city, but continues to send updates and photographs to the doctor as the girl grows up. The book traces the consequences of the doctor’s decision and its impact on the two families over the next twenty years.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We all felt that this was a fantastic premise for a novel and that the author started the book out with a bang. Unfortunately things got a bit bogged down in the centre. So much time was devoted to Norma’s depression and her dark state of mind that the book became heavy and depressing to read. (The reader also wonders why David told his semi-conscious wife about the second baby in the first place.) The study of David’s guilt and the way his snap decision destroys his family is well done and believable, but the reader naturally wants to follow Caroline and Phoebe’s progress and see how their lives turn out. The story is an interesting snapshot of the past treatment of Down Syndrome children and their struggle for acceptance and education.