Rated Reads

The Hand That First Held Mine

by Maggie O'Farrell

Rated: Moderate

Lexie Sinclair just needs a nudge to escape her boring life in the country, and Innes Kent’s brief appearance in her sleepy town is just the one to get her headed to London. When she gets there, she makes a life for herself, falling in love with Innes and working for him at his small but respected magazine in postwar Soho.

In present-day London, Elina Vilkuna is coping with a traumatic birth and adapting to having a newborn. She lost so much blood that she seems to have blocked out her memory of the birth. She is not as disconcerted by her loss of memories, however, as her baby’s father is; the lack of sleep and the newness of it all is making life a bleary haze. But Ted worries about her, even as he starts having strange memories of his own that he can’t explain.

The two stories interweave in Maggie O’Farrell’s lovely novel. Lexie experiences a loss that shakes her to the core, but she manages to find some life again. Elina’s struggle to deal with a colicky new baby is one that will resonate with any parent: O’Farrell vividly captures those early weeks of life with a new baby and makes that time seem absolutely real and present. Eventually the two stories converge in a poignant ending that readers will want to quietly savor for a long while after the final page is turned.

Rated: Moderate, for two uses of strong language, some mild and moderate language, and some mild sexual references.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The Hand That First Held Mine
  • by Maggie O'Farrell
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: