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Extended Audio Sample The Hand That First Held Mine Audiobook, by Maggie O’Farrell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,380 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Maggie O’Farrell Narrator: Anne Flosnik Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455197002
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Irish-born writer Maggie O’Farrell isn’t one to hold her reader’s hand, but with an urgent tug on your attention she’ll pull you into her complex, intricately imagined novels about women who refuse to conform. Her mesmerizing, enormously satisfying fifth novel, The Hand That First Held Mine, follows The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and again involves nastily suppressed family secrets that cause untold damage…an uncommonly gripping and moving read.”

    Washington Post

  • “O’Farrell brings to mind Sue Miller but with a British and darker flavor; her sure hand for psychological suspense (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox) continues to be most impressive.”

    Library Journal

  • “Maggie O’Farrell has a singular knack for sensing the magnetic fields that push and pull people in love, and in The Hand That First Held Mine, she summons those invisible forces to tell two stories…the result is a remarkably taut and unsentimental whole that embraces the unpredictable, both in love and in life.”

    Amazon.com Review  

  • Winner of the Costa Book Award Costa Book Award
  • Selected for the May 2010 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jesse Figuera | 2/16/2014

    " I loved the writing style, reminded me of the Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood. Timeless, and beautiful and kind of wispy romantic with truly interesting character whose lives wind together in surprising ways..but parts of it were so sad that it made me ache. I stayed up till 2 AM reading it several nights, but still don't know if I'd recommend it to somebody with kids..its sort of haunting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristy | 1/31/2014

    " Now my favourite book ever. Ever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sherry | 1/16/2014

    " Didn't finish - wasn't sure I wanted to read about some really depressed, emotionally disconnected and confused characters... Doesn't make it a bad book at all, though, as its very atmospheric, if you want to wallow in all that misery! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Justin | 1/15/2014

    " Was slow in the beginning. Almost started to lose me, but when the stories began to come together, the book became far more interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 12/30/2013

    " 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 marg | 12/28/2013

    " Well, it's not the worst book I ever read, but a big disappointment given how much I have loved O'Farrell. This time around she did her same shtick of two seemingly unrelated stories headed toward a big bang up blah blah but the writing was off as were the storylines. Very abrupt phrasing and choppy narrative, characters that were more forces of nature than people, draggy depressing tales. I was able to finish it, but she has done better and I wish this had been indicative. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 12/26/2013

    " Beautifully written, incredibly moving. Perfectly describes the utter bewilderment of the first days with a new baby and the surreal feelings experienced. Amazing author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen Kirby Vallejo | 10/24/2013

    " There were parts of this book that just dragged for me...mainly the Elina/Ted storyline. I really liked Lexie though. And I hate it when the author tries to be all mysterious about how things are going to connect, when I've figured it out a few chapters in. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katherine | 9/22/2013

    " i found this a little too unrealistic for some reason "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 8/6/2013

    " Beautiful, descriptive prose. O'Farrell captures the depth and complexity of the emotions of motherhood. The story stayed with me for a long time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean | 7/17/2013

    " Book started slow for me with two parallel stories and I was wondering how they were going to connect. The ending was very good and tied up the stories well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greggq Fraley | 4/3/2012

    " Just finished this book. Heavy on style, some nice surprises in the story that I didn't see coming. Good "internal feelings" of all the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Madri | 3/11/2012

    " Die storie het my geboei, die verteller wat gedurig "sigbaar" tussentree met 'n "this is Lexie at the house" en "she doesn't know it yet, but..." het ek hoogs irriterend gevind. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennyreadsexcessively | 2/22/2012

    " gorgeous novel of motherhood, 2 seemingly unconnected narratives alternate chapters to tell of an independent British woman raising her son in 1950's London and a modern immigrant to London who is overwhelmed by her new baby, wonderful writing here, Costa (Whitbread) Award Winner "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen | 12/24/2011

    " Well written. Did not want it to end! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 12/5/2011

    " I love Maggie O'Farrell's books but this one was the best of the bunch so far. The characters were superbly portrayed and the story moved me to tears. Excellent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 8/26/2011

    " The beginning goes between two unrelated stories of yound women in London, one a new mother and one the generation before starting her adult life in London. Wonderful descriptions of the both lives unfold into a complex story of the men thes women live with. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 8/5/2011

    " i love her writing; the way she narrates and her beautiful use of words. more character driven than plot driven until near the end. once i figured that out i was already drawn in by these people and their developing stories. would recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marnie Meisner | 7/19/2011

    " First impression of this book, is that there are two stories going on, and no plot. Then 3/4 way into book it all ties together with a bit of a twist. Quite interesting actually. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Renee | 5/21/2011

    " Two stories that connect in the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Taralee | 5/21/2011

    " Another haunting story by a great author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzi | 5/20/2011

    " I enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. A quick, yet interesting read. Great airplane or beach book. Made for an interesting book club discussion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 zenbren | 5/10/2011

    " Superb doesn't cut it as a description where ths book is concerned--it is a truly compelling novel about motherhood,trust,love ,betrayal and mystery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanya | 5/8/2011

    " Excellant, she's a great writer, could'nt put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelley | 5/2/2011

    " Two intriguing stories that intersect. Many aspects to discuss in a book group. Well crafted to the point where you wonder how she thought of it all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Áine | 5/1/2011

    " Loved, loved, loved this book. It's O'Farrell at her best. In the beginning, it's unclear where the book's dual threads related or intersect. But once it becomes clear, the story completely captivates you. First really engrossing book I read in a while, and the writing is spectacular. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 4/22/2011

    " I probably would have given this 4 1/2 stars, but it was the best thing I had read in a while. It was an interesting meld of 2 stories, that come together. Even though I could see where it was going, I was still a little surprised, and found I wanted more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Grace | 4/20/2011

    " Involving - I wad v stressed and upset when I got home last night and started this book. Just what I needed. Not a surprise in themes or style if you've read anything by her before but it took me quite away from myself. Hate the title. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cristin | 4/19/2011

    " Outstanding book about two women's experiences with motherhood. Not at all sentimental, and felt true. "

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About the Author

Maggie O’Farrell is the author of four previous novels, including the acclaimed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and After You’d Gone. Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, she grew up in Wales and Scotland. She now lives in Edinburgh with her family.

About the Narrator

Anne Flosnik, a seasoned audiobook narrator, has over four hundred titles to her credit and several awards and distinctions, including three AudioFile Earphones Awards, a USA Today Recommended Listening, and the American Library Association’s Special Services to Children Award. She has twice been an Audie Award finalist. She is an accomplished actress with lead credits on stage, on television, and in commercials and voice-overs.