Title: The hand that first held mine
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
Softcover: 341 pages
Publisher: April 12th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2009)
Maggie O’Farrell has a singular knack for sensing the magnetic fields that push and pull people in love, and in The Hand That First Held Mine, she summons those invisible forces to tell two stories.
The first is the spirited journey of Lexie Sinclair, a bright, tempestuous woman who finds her way from rural Devon to the center of postwar London’s burgeoning art scene. Her force of personality makes her a natural critic (she’s a wonderful tour guide to Soho’s Bohemian circles), and she soon falls deeply in love.
Fast forward fifty years and you’ll meet Ted and Elina: a contemporary London couple who’ve just had their first child, both afflicted with a crisis of memory–Elina can recall only bits and pieces of her life before the baby, while Ted fights off memories he can’t even recognize.
O’Farrell alternates these plots artfully, always keeping the incorrigible Lexie in forward motion, while letting Ted and Elina wade further back in time. Inevitably, the two stories collide, and the result is a remarkably taut and unsentimental whole that embraces the unpredictable, both in love and in life.