Lexie Sinclair yearns for more than her parents’ genteel country life. She makes her way to the city, where she meets a magazine editor, Innes, a man unlike any she has ever imagined. He introduces her to the thrilling world of bohemian postwar London, and Lexie learns to become a reporter, to know art and artists, to live fully, unconventionally, and with deep love. And when she finds herself pregnant by a man wholly unsuitable for marriage or fatherhood, she doesn’t hesitate a minute to have the baby on her own.
Later, in present-day London, a young painter named Elina dizzily navigates the first weeks of motherhood after a traumatic birth. Her boyfriend, Ted, shaken by nearly losing her in labor, begins to recover lost memories from his own obscured childhood. As the memory flashes return with ever more disconcerting frequency, we discover a heartbreaking and beautiful revelation that connects these two women and their stories.
A stunning portrait of motherhood and the artist’s life in all their terror and glory, Maggie O’Farrell’s newest novel is a gorgeous inquiry into the ways we make and unmake our lives, and how even our most accidental legacies connect us.
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"Having already read, and been impressed by, Maggie O'Farrell's "After You'd Gone", it was obvious that her Costa award winning "The hand that first held mine" would be right up my street. And it certainly was. It alternates between two stories, one set in the modern day, and the other in the 1950's. The first follows the life of Ted and Elina with their new baby and the second centres on young Lexie who leaves her Devon home for life in London. This seems the far more successful of the two, but the stories have a connection which gradually unfolds. O'Farrell is a terrific writer. Her prose is eloquent and interesting and this has produced a highly emotional and dramatic novel."
David (5 out of 5 stars)