Friday, July 8, 2011

Saturday Review of Books: Maggie O'Farrell's The Hand That First Held Mine

A blogger's review is what prompted me to pick up The Hand That First Held Mine, by Maggie O'Farrell, at the local library. (Thanks, blogger, whoever you are!)

The book was immediately intriguing and easily held my interest.

But you know, sometimes I refrain from reading anything on the cover because I want to let it all unfold on its own, without me having any knowledge of what's going to happen. And it might have been a good idea for me to have just a bit more knowledge about the story.

The book begins with Elina, a Finnish artist living with her English boyfriend, Ted, in the present day. Intriguingly, Elina has just had a baby, but she has no memory of doing so.

Simultaneously, we meet Lexie, who is living in the 1950's. Lexie is a beautiful, feisty young woman who wants to leave her Devon family and move to London--and fortunately for her, she just happens to meet a man who will help make that happen.

When I started reading the book, I thought it was going to focus mainly on Elina and Lexie, in their separate eras, and somehow link the two. I thought Ted was just sort of a marginal character. I was wrong.

The two stories do, of course, end up intersecting. And although I was starting to get an idea of where it was going, it still had one of the those deliciously jaw-dropping moments--I think I literally gasped out loud.

My one complaint about the book is that it makes Lexie sort of unlikable. I would have liked to have been able to root for her a bit more. Although she was admirable in some ways, she just wasn't lovable.

As for Maggie O'Farrell's writing? This is the first time I've ever read anything by her, and I loved her style. For instance, there are two babies in the book, and she captures a baby's behavior more beautifully and perfectly than I believe I've ever read.

I really enjoyed this book and plan to read more by Maggie O'Farrell.

I'm participating today in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books. Click the icon for more info!



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