First hand account

28 01 2011

The hand that first held mine by Maggie O’Farrell

When the bohemian, sophisticated Innes Kent turns up by chance on her doorstep, Lexie Sinclair realises she cannot wait any longer for her life to begin, and leaves for London. There, at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene, she carves out a new life for herself, with Innes at her side. In the present day, Elina and Ted are reeling from the difficult birth of their first child. Elina, a painter, struggles to reconcile the demands of motherhood with sense of herself as an artist, and Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood, memories that don’t tally with his parents’ version of events. As Ted begins to search for answers, so an extraordinary portrait of two women is revealed, separated by fifty years, but connected in ways that neither could ever have expected.

A compelling yarn. Extremely well-written and well worth the Costa prize. Bit of a slow start and rather too much detail of Elina’s early days of motherhood but nevertheless excellent once it gets going. Ted’s “search for answers” does beg a number of questions though about why he never thought to ask any questions at all earlier in his life. Still, highly recommended.

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