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

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The Hand that First Held Mine

A Novel

by Maggie O'Farrell

The Hand that First Held Mine
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 352 pages

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There are currently 19 reader reviews for The Hand that First Held Mine
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Power Reviewer Cloggie Downunder (03/02/11)

O'Farrell does not disappoint
The Hand That First Held Mine is Maggie O’Farrell’s fifth novel. Two stories are told in parallel: Lexie Sinclair quits Devon for London when the charismatic Innes Kent arrives on her doorstep, and starts her life at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene; Elina and Ted are coming to terms with the changes wrought in their present-day lives by the birth of their son. As we follow lives separated by fifty years, wondering how they might be connected, we learn that Ted has been having flashes of memory of his childhood which seem at odds with his parents’ version. O’Farrell weaves her usual magic with authentic dialogue and evocative descriptions: the feel of 1950s London is expertly conveyed. This novel is filled with elegant prose, characters to love and to despise, humour and heartbreak, poignant moments and enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing. Fans of Maggie O’Farrell’s previous novels will not be disappointed.
Lynn (03/27/10)

Read this Book!
Having just closed the final page of this book, I am tempted to simply say "Buy this book, you won't be sorry". So many of the beautifully descriptive passages are still resonating in my heart - none more so than Elina's fight to stay with Theo towards the end. A wonderful story from a masterful writer, and characters I will long remember.
Elizabeth B. (Sunnyvale, CA) (03/18/10)

The Hand That First Held Mine
This is one of the best books I've read in the past two years. The writing was exquisite. I was intrigued with how the author went between the two sets of main characters, of different generations, in both conventional and non-conventional ways. In on particular way, I felt like I was watching a movie, something I haven't experienced before. Additionally, the author developed the characters in such painstakingly, intricate ways. Their identities didn't hit the reader over the head, but you got to know them slowly, meticulously. The reader's perspective and location also shifted at times in the novel, which made the novel seem more lifelike.
Christine P. (Pleasanton, CA) (03/17/10)

The Hand That First Held Mine
Identity? What defines you as a person? What are the many factors that make us the person we will become? Maggie O’Farrell explores this subject in her latest novel, The Hand That First Held Mine, through the lives of two women, Lexie and Elina. We meet Lexie in the mid 1950s just as she leaves home for London. She becomes a journalist in the avant-garde art scene. Elina lives in today’s world just as she has become a new mother. Due to complications during the birth, her boyfriend, Ted, is having a hard time with the fact that he has almost lost Elina. O’Farrell does a fantastic job of capturing those sleep deprived days of early motherhood. Discussion groups will love this novel because of the wealth of topics; love, loss, environment, parentage, greed, anger and so on, that make up the ingredients to the character of the person we become.
Kathy W. (Appleton, WI) (03/14/10)

The Hand That First Held Mine
I loved this book and highly recommend it. The language is beautiful, the characters are memorable, and the parallel plots reward the reader with more than the sum of the two stories told separately. Maggie O'Farrell recognizes the importance of detail in creating believable fiction and her dialogue is so good that at times I felt like I was eavesdropping! I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Carol J. (Isle, MN) (03/12/10)

The Hand that First Held Mine
This was the first of Maggie O'Farrell's books that I have read and I am looking forward to another one. I found "The Hand that First Held Mine" to be a well crafted and very enjoyable book. The characters were interesting and engaging. The writing style seemed to put the reader into the same emotional place as the characters.
As a mother, especially a single mother, I found the relationships very believable and reminiscent. I was also impressed with Ms. O'Farrell's portrayal of Elina's postpartum experience and the development of the baby. Her descriptions of the way the infants engaged their respective mothers was very insightful.

I most enjoyed the masterful ending of the book. I always enjoy a well ended book, especially when the ending is not predictable from the first page. This would be a fun bookclub book, and could inspire some interesting discussions.
Judith W. (Brooklyn, NY) (03/09/10)

Couldn't put it down
If I could have read this in one sitting I would have, but available time did not allow. Enjoyed both story lines and found the back and forth interesting, though it took me some time to tumble to the underlying relationship between the two stories. Also found the contrasts between the two showed how things have changed between the two time frames. Will look out for more from this author.
Marjorie H. (Bedford, TX) (03/08/10)

Too Short
This small book held my attention from beginning to end. The reader is immediately pulled into the world of Alexandra/Lexie who's considering her life and will change her life as her name is changed. She's strong and willful. But, perhaps not as strong as Elina who is home with a newborn and a brush with death delivering her son. This story evolves and Lexie, through the death of her lover, continues to surprise the reader with her choices - in life and in men.

Elina, survives the tortuous months of recovering and caring for her son. Ted, the father of Jonah, is suffering from recurring seizures and seems to be facing a downward spiral - fighting vague memories of the past.

Part mystery; part romance - the book ends with shocking acts and resolutions that connect the characters in very interesting ways. I wish it could have been longer. Wonderful read, wonderfully written.
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