mbloom, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by mbloom)
Perhaps my enjoyment of this book, like so many others I have loved, was greatly influenced by when and where I read it. Perhaps it's just that I'm at the stage in my life where I'm thinking a lot about babies and weddings and the history of self. Whatever the reason, though, I thoroughly loved this book. The voice was clear, consistent, and beautiful. I found myself both racing to the end and hoping it would never finish. As I'd hoped, the end does the rest of the book justice. I never found myself disappointed in any of the author's choices (of plot, words, names, etc.). The mystery of how to connect the two seemingly-disparate stories of the book gradually becomes more and more clear as the book unfolds, as Maggie O'Farrell weaves together rich characters and a perfect sense of timing. She clearly loves her craft, and I can't wait to read more from her. I'd recommend this book to anyone yearning for a truly great book.
by The Washington Post Book World,
"The Hand That First Held Mine is a spellbinding novel of two women connected across fifty years by art, love, betrayals, secrets, and motherhood. Like her acclaimed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, it is a "breathtaking, heart-breaking creation."
A novel of two women, a writer and a painter, who are connected across fifty years by love stories, family secrets, and motherhood.
In the thrilling, underground world of bohemian post-war London, Lexie Sinclair is making an extraordinary life for herself. Taken up by magazine editor Innes Kent, she learns to be a reporter, to know art and artists, to embrace her life fully and with a deep love at the center of it.
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 happen 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.
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