On a snowy night, Dr. Henry must deliver his wife's baby himself as his associate is stuck in a snow drift. The first twin is a healthy boy but the second child is a girl with an obviously flattened face, the mark of Down Syndrome. He asks the attending nurse to secretly take the baby girl away to a home for just such children. He tells his wife the baby girl died. The nurse cannot bear to place the baby in such an unsuitable environment and keeps her, making her way in another city.
The novel investigates the various relationships that result: between the husband with a secret and his wife, the surviving son and his parents, the nurse and her "adopted" daughter, and more.
This is a book made for reading groups and discussion about relationships.
My only criticism is that the book seemed disjointed to me. There would be scenes in the characters' lives, rather ordinary daily events,and then years of inconsequential life, I suppose, until the next scene. I felt like I missed so much of their lives. But a novel can be only so long and this one covers some 25 years.
I read this book for the local library reading group.
Penguin, 401 pages, with discussion guide.