Title: The Hand That First Held Mine
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
Release Date: April 12, 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Hand That First Held Mine is the story of two very different women. Elina Vilkuna lives in present-day London with her boyfriend, Ted, and is pregnant with their first child. Lexie Sinclair lives in post-WWII Devon, suspended from university for refusing to apologize for walking through a “men only” door. These two women seem to have nothing in common at first glance, but as the novel progresses, the reader realizes they are connected by the bonds of motherhood and love.
I really enjoyed Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, so when I discovered she was coming out with a new book, I knew I wanted to read it. The Hand That First Held Mine is certainly different from O’Farrell’s previous novel, but it is just as well-written and beautifully told.
I have to admit, I wondered where the story was going for the first part of this book. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested or that it was slow, it just didn’t seem like it was in a hurry to make its point. However, as the book progresses, the reader becomes more and more engrossed in it as the hints and subtle references begin to emerge. O’Farrell manages to create a sense of urgency while maintaining the facade of a laid back novel.
The women in The Hand That First Held Mine, Lexie and Elina, were both incredibly well developed. Though I personally liked Lexie more, both her and Elina were wonderfully drawn. O’Farrell did a great job breathing life into these complicated characters.
This book also has a very haunting quality that comes from O’’Farrell’s writing. It gives the book the atmosphere of a mystery, even though that isn’t necessarily the main focus of the plot. Her prose is beautiful and flows very well, making this an enjoyable novel that is very easy to read.
I really enjoyed The Hand That First Held Mine and will definitely be going back to read some of Maggie O’Farrell’s earlier work. Those who want a literary novel that isn’t difficult to read should pick up this book.