Book Review: The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

Title: The Hand That First Held Mine
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
ISBN: 9780547330792
Pages: 352
Release Date: April 12, 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

Comments

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about Maggie O’Farrell around the blogosphere lately. This book sounds interesting – I think with this one I am more intrigued by how you describe her writing than with the subject matter in the book. I’m hoping to try out something by her soon though.

  2. I’ve been hearing a lot about Maggie O’Farrell around the blogosphere lately. This book sounds interesting – I think with this one I am more intrigued by how you describe her writing than with the subject matter in the book. I’m hoping to try out something by her soon though.

  3. Great review. I think I’d really enjoy this one. I’m adding it to my ridiculously long list!

  4. Great review. I think I’d really enjoy this one. I’m adding it to my ridiculously long list!

  5. I love when two stories that appear so different on the surface intertwine together. This sounds like a book I would like.

  6. I love when two stories that appear so different on the surface intertwine together. This sounds like a book I would like.

  7. I like it when stories that seem to have nothing in common intertwine in the end. This seems like a good read, thanks for the review. I had never heard of the author before, but now I’d like to try out one of her books.

  8. I like it when stories that seem to have nothing in common intertwine in the end. This seems like a good read, thanks for the review. I had never heard of the author before, but now I’d like to try out one of her books.

  9. I saw an interview with this author somewhere, probably linked to her website. In any case, I thought the book sounded quite interesting. Thanks for your review. I’m putting it on my wishlist.

  10. I saw an interview with this author somewhere, probably linked to her website. In any case, I thought the book sounded quite interesting. Thanks for your review. I’m putting it on my wishlist.

  11. Can’t wait to read this one! The cover is absolutely gorgeous and haunting, and I love the title. I’d have picked it up based on those two facts alone, but definitely want it now that I’ve read your review!

  12. Can’t wait to read this one! The cover is absolutely gorgeous and haunting, and I love the title. I’d have picked it up based on those two facts alone, but definitely want it now that I’ve read your review!

  13. Wonderful review! I have heard such good things about this book, and your review just reinforces the fact that this is a book I need to read. I really want to read Esme Lennox as well. Glad to hear that this book was so satisfying to you. It sounds like a great read!

  14. Wonderful review! I have heard such good things about this book, and your review just reinforces the fact that this is a book I need to read. I really want to read Esme Lennox as well. Glad to hear that this book was so satisfying to you. It sounds like a great read!

  15. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since you were talking about it on Twitter.

  16. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since you were talking about it on Twitter.

  17. Esme keeps showing up on lists, and comes so highly recommended, so I can understand why you reached for this one. I do like it when unconnected lives intersect (like Let the Great World Spin!). It makes me feel like I am opening gifts.

  18. Esme keeps showing up on lists, and comes so highly recommended, so I can understand why you reached for this one. I do like it when unconnected lives intersect (like Let the Great World Spin!). It makes me feel like I am opening gifts.

  19. I’m struck by this cover everytime I see it. Maybe because she looks like Julianne Moore?

  20. I’m struck by this cover everytime I see it. Maybe because she looks like Julianne Moore?

  21. I am fascinated how authors can create a story with two different scenario and connect it slowly before you finish the book.

  22. I am fascinated how authors can create a story with two different scenario and connect it slowly before you finish the book.

  23. This sounds fabulous! I love any sort of mother daughter story and this seems to have a bit of mystery to it! Can’t wait to add it to my list!

  24. This sounds fabulous! I love any sort of mother daughter story and this seems to have a bit of mystery to it! Can’t wait to add it to my list!

  25. I like the woman who goes through the door marked “men only.” That alone makes me want to know more.

  26. I like the woman who goes through the door marked “men only.” That alone makes me want to know more.

  27. I so thoroughly enjoyed Esme Lennox I’ve been a bit hesitant to read this one. I’m hearing such good things, though that I think I’ll get over my fear of this one not living up to my first read by an author.

  28. I so thoroughly enjoyed Esme Lennox I’ve been a bit hesitant to read this one. I’m hearing such good things, though that I think I’ll get over my fear of this one not living up to my first read by an author.

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