What seems at first to be an interesting character study evolves into a stunning novel about intertwining lives and family history. By the time the light finally dawns the reader has already been pulled deeply into everyone's life and can only gasp at the artistry. — Karen Frank
“Alternating chapters tell the story of two women in London in two very different times: Lexie, the journalist in post-war London, and Elina, a new mother struggling with her baby and her boyfriend in the present day. The portraits of these women are spellbinding in their depth of understanding, and the way O'Farrell weaves them together is dazzling.”
— Jude Sales, Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA
From the best-selling author of The Vanishing of Esme Lennox comes a spellbinding novel that shows there are no accidents, in life and in love.
Frustrated with her parents' genteel country life, Lexie Sinclair plans her escape to London. There, she takes up with Innes Kent, a magazine editor who introduces her to the thrilling, underground world of bohemian, postwar Soho. She learns to be a reporter, comes to know art and artists, and embraces her freedom fully. So 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 and finds she can't remember giving birth, while her boyfriend Ted is flooded with memories and images he cannot place. As their stories unfold—moving in time and changing voice chapter by chapter—a connection between the three of them takes shape that drives the novel towards a tremendous revelation. Praised by The Washington Post as a “breathtaking, heart-breaking creation,” The Hand That First Held Mine is a gorgeous and tenderly wrought story about the ways in which love and beauty bind us together.