Customer Reviews for

The Hand That First Held Mine

Average Rating 3.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Maggie O'Farrell does it again!

Maggie O'Farrell has a way with words that transcends her from writer to wordsmith and this book reinforces that for me. This is a story of inter-generational love and the minute ways one moment, one person (even from another time and place) can affect our lives. From t...
Maggie O'Farrell has a way with words that transcends her from writer to wordsmith and this book reinforces that for me. This is a story of inter-generational love and the minute ways one moment, one person (even from another time and place) can affect our lives. From the cover to the thick, offset pages, to the beautifully woven story printed within, this book was amazing. I believe some things are better left unsaid. Sometimes it is best to take a chance, to not know what a book is about and to get it anyways. To read it. To immerse yourself into a story worth every second. This is THE book. This is THE author. It is hard to fail with any piece by Maggie O'Farrell. I left this book longing for more, wanting to know what happens next, where did these characters end up? And I can't give any higher compliment than that... read it! You won't regret it.

posted by Of_Books_and_Birds on May 12, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

The climatic ending was great, but the middle of the book could have used a little more oomph.

The Hand That First Held Mine starts with Lexie Sinclair, raised in a wealthy, country family, she flees to postwar London looking for excitement and stimulation. She takes up with Innes, an older man who owns and edits a magazine. As a reporter she develops into a fasc...
The Hand That First Held Mine starts with Lexie Sinclair, raised in a wealthy, country family, she flees to postwar London looking for excitement and stimulation. She takes up with Innes, an older man who owns and edits a magazine. As a reporter she develops into a fascinating woman, strong and opinionated, but with a tender connection to Innes.

Switch to modern day and we meet Elina and Ted, a young couple who have just had a baby through a traumatic birth. As a new father Ted begins to have disturbing visions and memories that he can't place or explain. Elina struggles to recover from the birth and, conversely, seems to be losing her memories.

In the end, the two stories are linked through a horrible tragedy.

I loved the parts of the book about Lexie. She is grows a lot during the book and develops into a woman I would like to know. Her experiences shape her in interesting, yet realistic ways. The modern day story is not as well-written with Ted and Elina seeming to drift in a haze, not knowing what direction to take. The climatic ending was great, but the middle of the book could have used a little more oomph. I didn't enjoy The Hand That First Held Mine as much as The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, but it was worth the read.

I listened to the audio version of The Hand That First Held Mine, read by Anne Flosnick. I am a sucker for a British accent and she hers is a nice, subtle one. I do wish she had used a more pronounced difference for the voices of Lexie and Elina and for the two plot lines in general.

posted by Frisbeesage on August 24, 2010

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Maggie O'Farrell does it again!

    Maggie O'Farrell has a way with words that transcends her from writer to wordsmith and this book reinforces that for me. This is a story of inter-generational love and the minute ways one moment, one person (even from another time and place) can affect our lives. From the cover to the thick, offset pages, to the beautifully woven story printed within, this book was amazing. I believe some things are better left unsaid. Sometimes it is best to take a chance, to not know what a book is about and to get it anyways. To read it. To immerse yourself into a story worth every second. This is THE book. This is THE author. It is hard to fail with any piece by Maggie O'Farrell. I left this book longing for more, wanting to know what happens next, where did these characters end up? And I can't give any higher compliment than that... read it! You won't regret it.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 5, 2010

    Accidental Legacies

    I have not read Maggie O'Farrell's work before, but I certainly will retrieve her prior novels with the hope of discovering similar strong characterizations and taut plots.

    This story develops when Alexandra Sinclair, renamed Lexie by the love of her life, Innes Kent, leaves her traditional family and moves to London. The setting is Bohemian post war London in the 1950's when most women lived with their families or boarding houses for women only. Lexie is unconventional; she is ahead of her time, she is independent, passionate and wants to carve a niche for herself. With the help and high powered love of Innes, she becomes knowledgeable about art and turns herself into a credible reporter. She works hard in this Soho art scene and is rewarded with like-minded friends. Tragedy befalls her and eventually she ends up an "unwed" mother out of choice. Throughout her travails, she holds onto her passion for Innes and confidence in herself as a mother and journalist.

    Decades later, another woman in London, has a near death experience giving birth to her son, Jonah. Elina is also not married but is a loyal, bright companion to Ted, the father of her child. She is also an artist and has a solid understanding of contemporary art and its value. Ted, who is nearly paralyzed by nearly losing Elina during labor, begins to recover lost memories. These memories traumatize him and he experiences deep loss.

    O'Farrell draws a brilliant connection between Lexie, Innes, Elina and Ted. There are other significant characters (Margot and Felix for example) weaved into the plot with strong purpose. Both Elina and Lexie are transformed by motherhood and their individual expression of motherhood is the best I have read. The author links the stories at the end, not too surprising, but there are some twists which convinced me that some birthrights deserve to be carried on.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    THE HAND THAT HELD MINE

    There are two parallel stories, set about 40-50 years apart. First, we meet Alexandra Sinclair, (Lexie), who leaves a country village to experience life in London, with the encouragement of a man she meets right outside her door one day. This man, Innes Kent, will impact her life in unexpected ways and for many years. Across time, we meet young parents, Ted and Elina. Elina is a Finnish artist, but she has just given birth to a boy, and almost bled to death in the process. She navigates her new life, and attempts to pull her boyfriend Ted into a more active role in his son's life. Chapters alternate between past and present in a link to finally see the whole picture.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    CAPTIVATING - MUST READ!!!

    I loved this book. It kept me reading as I was wanting to know how the two sets of characters were connected which was revealed near the end of the story. Like another reviewer mentioned it leaves you wondering what happens to these characters in the end. Perhaps this will be the subject for a sequel. This is my first Maggie O'Farrell book but I plan on checking out her other books soon. I definitely consider this book one of the best I have read in 2010. I look forward to reading future Maggie O'Farrell novels. She is an excellent writer.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A twisty mystery that will break your heart

    I read Maggie O'Farrell's novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox a few years back and found it a haunting story. I looked forward to reading her next book, The Hand That First Held Mine. It's not a book that grabbed me right away, but I'm glad I stuck with it because the resolution of the story was heartbreaking. O'Farrell expertly weaves two stories together, and I didn't know where she going with it until about three quarters of the way through, and then I was devastated. The story alternates between Lexie, a young girl who leaves her family in the country to move to the big city after she meets a mysterious older man on the road outside her house. Innes Kent becomes her lover and mentor as she works for his magazine. Innes is married, but that doesn't stop them. Years later we met Ted and Elina. Elina has just gone through a traumatic birth, losing four pints of blood in the process. She has a difficult time caring for the baby, but Ted must go back to work as an editor. He worries about Elina and the baby, and then he begins to have blackouts. The birth of his child has triggered something in him, something he has repressed. Ted tries to put together what happened in his childhood that could be causing his troubles today. He remembers a lovely woman holding his hand, but it isn't the hand of his mother, who is a cold woman. As Ted tries to put the pieces together, the story lines meet. O'Farrell is a marvelous story teller, and one passage just flat-out knocked me out. A mother, upon knowing she is drowning and will not see her young son grow thinks, "She would not see him grow as tall as her then taller. She would not be there when someone first broke his heart or when he first drove a car or when he went out alone into the world or when he saw, for the first time, what he would do, how he would love and with whom and where. She would not be there to knock sand out of his shoes when he came off the beach. She would not see him again." As a mother, those words just devastated me. It is every mother's nightmare. I liked the character growth of Lexie, and that surprised me as I didn't like her at first. I also enjoyed that I didn't see where this book would end up, that is unusual for me, and I think that shows the skill of the author.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 24, 2010

    The climatic ending was great, but the middle of the book could have used a little more oomph.

    The Hand That First Held Mine starts with Lexie Sinclair, raised in a wealthy, country family, she flees to postwar London looking for excitement and stimulation. She takes up with Innes, an older man who owns and edits a magazine. As a reporter she develops into a fascinating woman, strong and opinionated, but with a tender connection to Innes.

    Switch to modern day and we meet Elina and Ted, a young couple who have just had a baby through a traumatic birth. As a new father Ted begins to have disturbing visions and memories that he can't place or explain. Elina struggles to recover from the birth and, conversely, seems to be losing her memories.

    In the end, the two stories are linked through a horrible tragedy.

    I loved the parts of the book about Lexie. She is grows a lot during the book and develops into a woman I would like to know. Her experiences shape her in interesting, yet realistic ways. The modern day story is not as well-written with Ted and Elina seeming to drift in a haze, not knowing what direction to take. The climatic ending was great, but the middle of the book could have used a little more oomph. I didn't enjoy The Hand That First Held Mine as much as The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, but it was worth the read.

    I listened to the audio version of The Hand That First Held Mine, read by Anne Flosnick. I am a sucker for a British accent and she hers is a nice, subtle one. I do wish she had used a more pronounced difference for the voices of Lexie and Elina and for the two plot lines in general.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 30, 2012

    moving, profound, intriguing

    I'll admit, I struggled in the beginning. The multiple story lines left me a but confused... but also intrigued. I wanted to know why it was written this way, so I kept reading. I also grew to admire, appreciate, and then love the characters and their strength. Near the end, I was mesmerized, picking up each tidbit of a connection, dying to see how all of the pieces fit together, yet equally distraught and depressed by the forseeable conclusion. It was heartwrenching, but moments were so heartwarming.
    A wonderful read. It demonstrates the unfathomable bond and ahcnge that is motherhood, and also gives us a glimpse of true love that is non traditional, but lovely nonetheless.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    Haunting

    Two new mothers in different times, tied together by........

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Wonderfully Written

    This is my first experience with Maggie O'Farrell and I'm hooked! The writing style is captivating and the short story at the end is mind-blowing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Seriously...

    60 cents "savings" equals "Deal of the Day"???? I haven't looked yet but bet it's cheaper at Amazon.

    1 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Booooooooo barnes and noble

    4% really? Shame on you barnes and noble. Greedy greedy

    1 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Tangled Web

    at times was difficult to follow

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Okay

    The last 100 pages or so are good. Difficult to get through the first 200 however. Ending is disapointing. Found myself wanting to know more before it was over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    A different and enjoyable style, recommend!

    This is a nice read. I loved the author's writting style with a descriptive sentence structure that was so enjoyable! Interesting cast of characters with nice wrap up ending. I'll look for more from this author!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2012

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    Interesting

    I found myself trying to piece everything together as I was reading. It was not hard to figure out who they were to each other. None the less it was a beautiful story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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