‘The Hand That First Held Mine’

I have just reviewed my second book for the virtual book  club I am a part of and thought I would share my review here, as part of my ‘Read’ theme…

The book was ‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ by Maggie O’Farrell.

I liked this book.  I loved last month’s book (‘When God Was a Rabbit’) and read it in six days.  This one took me all month, so I think that is fairly indicative of ‘liking’ rather than ‘loving’.

It took me a little while to get into, mainly because I found the initial scenes, which introduce us to Elina who has just had her first baby and suffered a very traumatic labour, frankly harrowing.  At one point I wasn’t sure if I could carry on reading it as I was worried about getting nightmares…but I persevered and it got better.  And I figured that it was testament to O’Farrell’s writing expertise, paticularly about the mental and emotional challenges faced by this character, that this part of the book had such a profound effect on me.

The book tells the story of two sets of characters, which alternate from one chapter to the next.  I am a bit indifferent to this method of storytelling, and books like this that I have enjoyed have seen me frustrated that the end of the chapter has come and it’s time to return to the other character, but I didn’t get that with this book.  I am a real ‘character-driven’ reader/writer and love to fall in love and connect with them, but that didn’t happen with this book, although I did have a soft spot for the eccentric, enigmatic and fabulously named Innes Kent.

There were love stories played out, both in the romantic sense as well as within families, and I thought that these were portrayed really well, particularly the mother/son bond.

I knew that the two stories would eventually tie up, but it did feel like it took quite some time for this to happen and I was starting to wonder if it was going to as I got nearer and nearer to the end of the book.  I happily admit that I am always the last person to ‘join up the dots’ and there were times towards the end where I had ‘Oh!’ moments.

Overall, I thought the book was well written, clever in parts and very well observed (especially the post-birth scenes).  I liked it but it didn’t bowl me over.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we will be reading next month, I’m loving Book Club!

Until next time, love and storytelling, sm x


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