Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

Book description:
"Lexie Sinclair is plotting an extraordinary life for herself.

Hedged in by her parents' genteel country life, she plans her escape to London. There, she takes up with Innes Kent, a magazine editor who wears duck-egg blue ties and introduces her to the thrilling, underground world of bohemian, post-war Soho. She learns to be a reporter, to know art and artists, to embrace her life fully and with a deep love at the center of it. She creates many lives--all of them unconventional. And when she finds herself pregnant, she doesn't hesitate to have the baby on her own.

Later, in present-day London, a young painter named Elina dizzily navigates the first weeks of motherhood. She doesn't recognize herself: she finds herself walking outside with no shoes; she goes to the restaurant for lunch at nine in the morning; she can't recall the small matter of giving birth. But for her boyfriend, Ted, fatherhood is calling up lost memories, with images he cannot place.

As Ted's memories become more disconcerting and more frequent, it seems that something might connect these two stories-- these two women-- something that becomes all the more heartbreaking and beautiful as they all hurtle toward its revelation."

This stunning book tells the stories of two women- two mothers- whose lives are changed first by love and then by motherhood. These two separate stories highlight the differences between women's lives in the post-WWII and modern day eras and also the similarities of the ties that bind them. As Lexie and Elina struggle with love and loss, Elina's husband Ted struggles with the memories he can't escape (Elina almost dying in childbirth) and those he cannot call to mind (his entire childhood is a blank). As this book builds to its stunning conclusion, these two stories collide in an unexpectedly graceful way. Though the book was a little hard to sink into at first, by the time I hit page 30, I knew I couldn't put it down until finished. Highly recommended!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been impressed by the two of Maggie O'Farrell's books I've read so far, and this one sounds like it will be no exception!