Book Review: The Hand That First Held Mine

The Hand That First Held Mine
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book I've read by this author. Of the others, I loved two and hated one to the extent that I couldn't actually finish it! I actually started this one several months ago and didn't get far with it, but it is my book club book for August and this time round I really enjoyed it.

There are two different story lines in this novel, though of course it's obvious that they will collide at some point. In 1950s Devon Alexandra is frustrated with her small town life and dreams of moving to London. A chance encounter with Innes, a rather dapper chap whose car has broken down, leads to Alexandra reinventing herself as Lexie and living her dream life in the city ….

Meanwhile, in the present day new parents Ted and Elina are struggling to cope emotionally following a difficult birth experience. As Elina tries to cope with the daily stuff, Ted seems to have become fixated on his past and is becoming more and more remote as a husband and father.

Gradually we learn more about these four individuals and their lives, with the reveal being not unexpected but upsetting and sensitively handled.

O'Farrell captures the four charcters perfectly and I really felt I knew Lexie, Ted, Elina and – to a lesser extent, for reasons that become obvious – Innes. This is a gentle yet thought provoking book that looks at how the pat our mother plays in our childhood can affect us deeply throughout our lives.

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