Five words from the blurb: Soho, birth, motherhood, women, connected.
The Hand That First Held Mine has a dual narrative which follows two women who are separated by 50 years in time, but dealing with many of the same issues. The first thread follows Lexie, a 21-year-old girl, who leaves her 1950s Devon home to start a new life in London. She begins a relationship with a married man and struggles to deal with the problems this causes.
The second thread follows Elina, a Finnish woman who has just given birth to her first baby. The traumatic emergency caesarean affected her and her partner, Ted, deeply. As both struggle to come to terms with the near-death experience they also have to learn to look after their demanding new baby. The writing was vivid and packed with emotion – perfectly describing the turmoil that a new baby brings to a household.
I connected with Elina’s thread much more than Lexie’s. I think this is a combination of the fact that I have young children and so can relate to the feelings of a new mother, but also because I have little sympathy for someone who has an affair with a married man. Lexie’s thread felt like a well written piece of chick-lit whilst Elina’s thread had a bit more depth than that.
Both threads come together towards the end of the book, but rather than being impressed by the connection it all felt a bit contrived to me.
The book was easy to read and gripping in places, but I wished that the plot had been a bit more complex or thought-provoking. This book reminded me of Peripheral Vision, but I felt that The Hand That First Held Mine didn’t have the same complexity or depth. I’m still thinking about the issues of motherhood raised in Peripheral Vision, whilst The Hand That First Held Mine offered no new perspective on the subject.
Overall, this was an entertaining diversion, but I don’t expect to remember much about it in a few months time.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
Every word is perfectly chosen, every sentence is perfectly constructed. Fleur Fisher in her World
…it didn’t pack the same punch for me as After You’d Gone… Leafing Through Life
It’s a vivid story of motherhood that honors the whole woman. The Literate Housewife