Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Hand that First Held Mine

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The Hand that First Held Mine

A Novel

by Maggie O'Farrell

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 352 pages

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According to BookBrowse reviewer Marnie Colton, Maggie O'Farrell's dry wit and keen observations owe a debt to these predecessors:

Nina Bawden (b. 1925)
Nina Bawden, CBE, is one of Britain's most distinguished and best-loved novelists for adults and children. She has published over forty novels and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Circles of Deceit. In 2004 she received the PEN Award for a Lifetime's Service to Literature. A number of her works have been dramatized by BBC Children's television, and many have been translated into various languages. In March 2010, Bawden was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize, to be awarded by public vote in reparation for the prize's missing year owing to a change in rules. Nicola Beauman, publisher of Persephone Books and a specialist in 20th-century women's fiction, says Bawden's novels "represent the best of women's writing, profound about relationships and particularly sensitive about the highs and lows of the relationship between adult and child" (The Guardian).

Molly Keane (1905-1996)
Molly Keane was an Irish novelist and playwright, who also wrote under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell. She published her first novel, The Knight of the Cheerful Countenance, when she was only 17. "Beneath the sparkling façade of Thirties Anglo-Irish life that she portrayed in so many of her novels, lay the dark, bitter truths which have induced critics to liken her to Noel Coward and Jane Austen (The Independent).

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989)
Best known for her novel Rebecca and her short story "The Birds," both of which were famously adapted for screen by Alfred Hitchcock, Du Maurier wrote numerous bestselling novels, short stories, plays, biographies and memoirs. "While contemporary writers were dealing critically with such subjects as the war, alienation, religion, poverty, Marxism, psychology and art, and experimenting with new techniques such as the stream of consciousness, du Maurier produced 'old-fashioned' novels with straightforward narratives that appealed to a popular audience's love or fantasy, adventure, sexuality and mystery." (The Independent).

This article was originally published in May 2010, and has been updated for the January 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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