The Hand That First Held Mine
By Maggie O'Farrell
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547423180, 360pp.)
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.
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. She has two children.
- 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?
"O’Farrell brings to mind Sue Miller but with a British and darker flavor; her sure hand for psychological suspense . . . continues to be most impressive." Library Journal"Maggie O’Farrell’s cinematically vivid novel is moody and powerful and plotted at a breakneck pace. This book, like life, will disarm you with its unannounced twists and tragedies and moments of unexpected beauty. She delivers to readers that rarest of experiencestotal emotional investment. Hers is a brilliant feat of prose marksmanshipalso, it made me cry on the subway." Heidi Julavits, author of The Effect of Living Backwards and The Uses of Enchantment "Maggie O’Farrell knows how to weave a bewitching tale, both thrilling and poetic. The Hand That First Held Mine will no doubt enrapture you, just as it has me." Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key
"An exquisitely sensual tale of love, motherhood, and other forms of madness, The Hand That First Held Mine will unsettle, move, and haunt you." Emma Donoghue, author of Slammerkin
"Maggie O’Farrell deftly depicts the long-after shocks of death, betrayal, and life-changing love as her richly complicated characters play out an immensely satisfying plot. The Hand That First Held Mine is a dazzling and absorbing novel." Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street "Maggie O’Farrell is an uncommonly perceptive writer, and The Hand That First Held Mine is an unforgettable story of family, ambition, and love. I couldn’t stop thinking about it long after I read the final page." Lauren Grodstein, author of A Friend of the Family