The Hand That First Held Mine

By Maggie O'Farrell
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547423180, 341pp.)

Publication Date: January 2011

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From the best-selling author of "The Vanishing of Esme Lennox" comes a spellbinding novel that shows there are no accidents, in life and in love.

Frustrated with her parents' genteel country life, Lexie Sinclair plans her escape to London. There, she takes up with Innes Kent, a magazine editor who introduces her to the thrilling, underground world of bohemian, postwar Soho. She learns to be a reporter, comes to know art and artists, and embraces her freedom fully. So when she finds herself pregnant, she doesn't hesitate to have the baby on her own. Later, in present-day London, a young painter named Elina dizzily navigates the first weeks of motherhood and finds she can't remember giving birth, while her boyfriend Ted is flooded with memories and images he cannot place. As their stories unfold--moving in time and changing voice chapter by chapter--a connection between the three of them takes shape that drives the novel towards a tremendous revelation. Praised by "The Washington Post" as a "breathtaking, heart-breaking creation," "The Hand That First Held Mine" is a gorgeous and tenderly wrought story about the ways in which love and beauty bind us together.

About the Author
MAGGIE O'FARRELL is the author of four previous novels, including the acclaimed "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox", which was a B&N Recommends Pick, and "After You d Gone". Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, O'Farrell grew up in Wales and Scotland. Shehastwo children.

Conversation Starters from


  1. Discuss the “firsts” referred to in the title. How were Lexie’s beliefs about love and life transformed by Innes? Is there a “first” in your past who changed the course of your life?

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