After delivering his own children during Norah, his wife’s labour on a cold winter night,
David discovered that his second children, a girl, was aﬀected by a congenital disease called
Down’s syndrome. This disease reminded David of his own unfortunate childhood. When he was twelve years old his younger sister died of Down’s syndrome and that event caused psychological depression for his mother, deprived his mother of the simple happiness of life.
It was also a huge blow for David as well, and since he loves his wife deeply, he do not want the same disaster that happened to his mother to repeat on his wife. He told a white lie to his wife telling her that their daughter had died soon after birth. However what he actually did was asking the nurse midwife to send his daughter to an orphanage. David abandoned his daughter because his love for Norah is much greater than his love for his daughter. His action was a dangerous risk for the family’s future life, because he didn’t consider the potential consequences for abandoning his daughter. David abandoned his daughter for the happiness of his wife, and his chose what he perceived to be the lesser of the two evils. We can judge him as being selfish for abandoning his daughter due to her birth defects, but he did it only to prevent the same tragic events from happening again. What he didn’t understand was the unbreakable love between a mother and her children as a significant part of human nature.
At the orphanage, receiving David’s daughter was definitely great news for the nurse
Caroline. Since Caroline has a secret crush on David, being able to raise his abandoned daughter was a great opportunity for her to assert her love to David. Caroline gave up her career as nurse midwife and took David’s still-alive daughter away from her funeral and ran oﬀ. She was trying to save David’s daughter out of human goodness, but her reason for saving the daughter was unarguably more selfish compared to David’s reason for killing his daughter.
David told a lie, and that lie followed him until his death. His wife Norah was the victim of David’s lie. If a high mountain is the symbol for love, David and Norah would both be the mountaineers attempting to climb it. Losing their daughter is like breaking the rope between
David and Norah, causing Norah to fall down deep to the bottomless abyss. Norah hated his husband for not letting her see the body of their supposedly-dead daughter, and for taking away part of her soul. She began to immerse herself in endless work as an attempt to ignore the scars inside her broken soul. She became a strong and independent women with a
successful career, wealth, business partners and numerous love aﬀairs. She lived a proud life and took revenge on David with love aﬀairs, purely out of her dissatisfaction with David’ lies and secrets.
Later, the plot of the book began to develop into two separate parts. The daughter of
David, named Phoebe, was adopted by Caroline and she became a source of strength for
Caroline. Caroline fought for her new daughter’s right to be educated and became a leader in civil activism. Phoebe grew up as the only daughter of Caroline and also wished to get married and have her own family. For her, the eﬀects of Down’s syndrome did not prevent her from being able to love and pursue happiness. Her innocence became a source of encouragement for Caroline. The book did not expand on Caroline and Phoebe’s experiences in great detail, but one can imagine the hardship upon the two during phoebe’s upbringing in the 1960s. Caroline’s quote from a conversation with David “You missed a lot of heartache, sure. But David, you missed a lot of joy.1” reflected her opinion on her decision to adopt phoebe. Caroline and Phoebe’s life together was unforgettable for both of them all thanks to the selfless love from Caroline.
Phoebe, the daughter who remained invisible, induced suspicion and vexation…