Maggie O’Farrell’s fifth novel, The Hand that First Held Mine, confronts the difficulties and wonders of motherhood. Through the lives of two women, Lexie and Elina, living a generation apart, a story of abandonment and unexpected joy spools out across London.
O’Farrell’s detail is excellent. Each life – Lexie’s in the Fifties and Sixties and Elina’s in the Noughties – is painted as intricately as a miniature. However, while her focus is acute, her chapters are often frustratingly short: for the first half of the book, it’s hard to