The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

This book was recommended here (and she writes such fabulous reviews you should go and read it). I reserved it at the library – I was about fifth in line – and one day an email arrives to say it was waiting for me.

Lexie Sinclair cannot stay. Enclosed within her parents’ genteel country lawn, she yearns for more. She makes her way to the big city, hungry for life and love, where she meets a magazine editor, Innes, a man unlike any she has ever imagined. He introduces her to the thrilling underground world of bohemian postwar London, and she learns to be a reporter, to know art and artists, to live her life fully and with a deep love at the center of it. When that love is threatened, she nearly loses the self she worked so hard to find. But then, she will create many lives, all of them unconventional. And when she finds herself pregnant by a man wholly unsuitable for marriage or fatherhood, she doesn’t hesitate for a minute to have the baby on her own, to be shaped by her love for her child.

Later, in present-day London, a young painter named Elina dizzily navigates the first weeks of motherhood. Her boyfriend, Ted, traumatized by nearly losing her in labor, begins to recover lost memories. He cannot place them. But as they become more disconcerting and return more frequently, we discover that something connects these two stories – these two women – something that becomes all the more heartbreaking and beautiful as they all hurtle toward its revelation.

A stunning portrait of motherhood and the artist’s life in all their terror and glory, Maggie O’Farrell’s newest novel is a gorgeous inquiry into the ways we make and unmake our lives, who we know ourselves to be, and how even our most accidental legacies connect us.

I loved this book. I tried to find more of O’Farrell’s work, but all of my local book stores (both chain and independent) didn’t have any.

It is written in two different time periods – one in the past and one in the present. You know at some stage the stories are going to merge/cross, but at first they seem disparate and as the story unfolds obvious, but how it all comes robe that way is a mystery to the very end.

The story set in the past involves Lexie and Innes. Free-spirited journalists who write about art and culture. The modern story involves Elina and Ted who have just had a baby. The birth was extremely traumatic and Ted starts to remember things long forgotten. O’Farrell writes beautifully about the exhaustion, confusion and overwhelming love involved with a newborn baby.

This story is well plotted and the tension rises with each chapter as you become aware of the final outcome, but how does it come about? I don’t want to reveal too much. This novel is excellent, the dialogue is superb, the relationships brilliantly imagined.

More reviews …


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2 Responses to The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

  1. Pingback: My BookClub Reviews » Blog Archive » After You’d Gone – Maggie O’Farrell

  2. Pingback: My BookClub Reviews » Blog Archive » ‘The Distance Between Us’ and ‘My Lover’s Lover’ – Maggie O’Farrell

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