MLA Gold Award Site

Reader reviews and comments on The Hand that First Held Mine, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Hand that First Held Mine

A Novel

by Maggie O'Farrell

The Hand that First Held Mine
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 352 pages
    Jan 2011, 352 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book


Page 2 of 3
There are currently 19 reader reviews for The Hand that First Held Mine
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Jean T. (Paducah, KY) (03/06/10)

Love at First Sight
I was deeply intrigued with the first paragraph -- rereading it more than once just to be sure -- and by the end of the first page I was totally smitten with this book. At first I found the interweaving of Lexie’s and Elina’s stories a bit jarring and disjointed, but then I settled into the author’s rhythm and enjoyed the episodic intertwining. In the midst I always took the time to step back to appreciate her incredible, poetic descriptive prose. I am not a mother myself and it’s no longer a possibility for me, yet the author’s description of a new mother’s fears, confusion, fatigue, and yet fiercely intense bonding with her baby seemed so very authentic to me in a way that I have never before seen presented. By the end of the book I didn’t want it to end, but the ending was so very perfect I felt at peace. The author did an incredibly masterful job in weaving all the threads of the two women’s stories together into a cohesive, beautiful multicolored tapestry. I continued to ponder the book after I finished, making the connections that were not apparent except in hindsight. I consider this one of the finest books I’ve read in a long time and think it will make an excellent selection for book clubs.
Vivian Q. (Greer, SC) (03/05/10)

The Hand That First Held Mine
Irish author Maggie O'Farrell writes stories about love in all its permutations, and I am a big fan.

As in her previous novels, this one takes a little time to get into the story and then, suddenly, it becomes a page turner. Told in alternating voices, decades apart, it is the story of two women and the men in their lives. Their stories are connected, but we don't immediately know how.

There is much to like and discuss in this wonderful exploration of love, motherhood and loss. Would recommend for book clubs.
Susan R. (Julian, NC) (03/05/10)

The Hand that First Held Mine
I thought that the book started slowly and I had a hard time getting involved in the characters. After about 50 pages, I started to really enjoy it. Once I got to that point, the characters became very real to me and I enjoyed getting to know them. I laughed and I cried while reading this book. The part of the story when Lexie knows that she is leaving her son forever and how much she fights to stay brought tears to my eyes. Overall I would say that this is one my top five books read in 2010 and I will highly recommend it to others. I am going to go back and read other books by this author.
Karen L. (Troy, IL) (03/02/10)

It was very hard for me to get into this book and it was difficult to stay focused on what I was reading. Some of the scenes were too descriptive for me. The characters were interesting and would bring lots of discussion for book clubs.
Deanna W. (Port Jefferson, NY) (02/28/10)

What happens to us when we have children?
This story deals with two women,Lexie a writer and Elina a painter separated in time 50 years living in non-traditional families in London. I enjoyed the beautiful descriptive language, but could not connect to the characters. The story contains flashbacks and family secrets but just not compelling enough to hold my interest.
Rebecca C. (Opelika, AL) (02/27/10)

Another incredible read!
I was very happy to receive an ARC of this book since I had just finished reading O’Farrell’s first book. The mood of this book starts out dreamy and slow and almost made me feel drugged and slow as I met the two couples, one in the past and one in the future. I knew that they are somehow connected but had no idea how. The book slowly drew me in and started moving faster until the action was at breakneck speed. And at the end, I immediately wanted to start again to find all the hints that I missed, all the connections that were so skillfully hidden. Maggie O’Farrell once again has merged past and present with her uncommon skills of pacing and movement.
Ann L. (Arnold, MD) (02/27/10)

The Hand That First Held Nine
It took me about 90 pages of reading to get involved in this book, then I was very interested in the story line. However, I thought the writing was inconsistent. Sometimes it was too wordy and dragged on. The parts describing how hard it was for both main characters, Lexie and Elina,to care for their babies was way too lengthy. The manner in which the two separate stories in different time periods were finally connected created an intriguing ending.
Erica L. (Plaistow, New Hampshire) (02/23/10)

Hooked From The Start
This book had me hooked right from the first page. The characters were well developed and I couldn't wait to find out what their stories were. Maggie O'Farrell is a great story writer that lulls the reader in and then gives them something totally unexpected. A book about two women whose stories unfold to a dramatic end. Book Clubs will enjoy delving into the different relationships and situations that occur in this book. A great read!
  • Page
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Saving Montgomery Sole
    Saving Montgomery Sole
    by Mariko Tamaki
    Understanding identity is one the most important parts of adolescence. For some teenagers, those who...
  • Book Jacket: All Tomorrow's Parties
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Never-Open Desert Diner
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.


Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
    by Phaedra Patrick

    In a poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Dark Lady's Mask
    by Mary Sharratt

    Based on the life of the first professional woman poet in Renaissance England, and her collaboration with Shakespeare.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Sign O T T

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.