Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Hand that First Held Mine

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
The fifth book from the award-winning author of 'After You’d Gone' is another delight, weaving together the stories of two women who have never met but whose destinies are linked by secrets, deception and love. Maggie’s skill is to draw the reader into her characters’ lives, while gradually revealing the relationship that binds them. A compelling portrait of motherhood

Two intertwined strands to this novel, a ‘past affecting the present’ narrative. Absolutely loved the storyline about the 1950s-60s heroine Lexie who has unsuitable affairs and becomes a famous journalist. The modern heroine, a Finn married to an Englishman, was well drawn but she’s a new mother and her story focuses on the joys and problems of a new baby, and how this affect both parents. When I read it I kept thinking yes, brilliant, that’s how new babies are and that’s how an isolated mother would feel. But ultimately newborns are mostly only fascinating to their parents and I felt Elina’s story was not as absorbing as Lexie’s. Obviously the Costa judges must disagree as the book has won the Best Novel prize 2010.

Should you read it? Yes, do please, as Maggie O’Farrell is a brilliant lyrical writer, but it’s probably not a book for chaps.  Here is a Guardian review.


LindyLouMac said...

Ciao Susie, All the best for 2011.
I am back at last catching up on all the posts I missed while I was away from computing while on an extended trip to the UK.
More titles for my wishlist in your latest book reviews, although I am pleased to say some are already on it, including this one.

Susie Vereker said...

Thanks, LLM, you are a good commenter. Happy new year to you too.

Lane said...

Diving in late here and catching up.

I had high hopes for this book but I have to agree - Lexie's story was fascinating but Elina's fell short and I struggled to stay interested. The present tense made it feel like wading through treacle - which was probably the intention.

Good luck with the new puppy!

Susie Vereker said...

Thanks for comments, Lane. I think the Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox was her best book. Hope she'll do more of that kind of thing.