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May book of the month: The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

The Hand that Once Held MineMay's Book of the Month is a book about motherhood - but in an unusual way. The Hand that First Held Mine is a beautifully crafted novel that weaves together two lives 50 years apart.


Lexie lives in 1950s Soho, and is forging a life as a journalist in the bohemian, artistic neighbourhood. Elina is a modern-day painter, also living in London, who has just had her first child. Each of their stories echoes the other, and connections keep appearing, leading to a suspense-driven climax. The shock and intensity of first-time motherhood is explored with piercing observation, but this is also a book about love: as Maggie O'Farrell says: "Love in many forms powers the book - familial, platonic, and also romantic."

The Hand that First Held Mine won the 2010 Costa Novel Award and in awarding the prize the judges described it as: "A book of grand themes and intimate moments. This gripping novel is the one we'd unreservedly recommend."

Date for your diary

Maggie will be here on Wed 25 May at 8pm for our book club discussion. Grab your paperback or ebook copy and join the discussion

About Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrelll

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of five novels: After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Distance Between Us (which won the Somerset Maugham Award), The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and The Hand That First Held Mine. Born in Northern Ireland, Maggie grew up in Wales and Scotland. She worked as a journalist in Hong Kong and as deputy literary editor of the Independent on Sunday. Maggie is married to the author William Sutcliffe and has two children. To watch Maggie talk about the book, and see all the reviews, visit her website.

Last updated: over 3 years ago