At the outset of this grave, intimate novel, Norah Henry goes into labor in the midst of a terrible blizzard. The only other people around are her husband, Dr. David Henry, and his nurse, Caroline Gill. David delivers his twins, but is horrified to discover that his newborn daughter has Down’s syndrome. He asks Caroline to take the girl to an institution and tells Norah that the baby died in birth. But Caroline can’t bear to let the infant go, and moves away to raise the girl as her own.
The ensuing story is prettily written and very, very sad. Norah never stops grieving the loss of her daughter, while David slowly dissolves in his own guilt. Meanwhile, in another city, Caroline struggles as the single mother of a developmentally delayed girl in a time where society rejects both. The book sticks with the families across many years, as they grapple with the rippling consequences of David Henry’s panicked impulse so many years ago. Phoebe and Paul, the separated twins, grow up in families full of secrets, and develop some of their own. The novel seems to suggest that although humans can adapt, grow and deal with all sorts of circumstances, some choices are irrevocable, and we may never recover from the fallout.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.
One year ago today: A Feast!