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Posts Tagged ‘Maggie O’Farrell’

Quick Outline

Spinning a web of love, beauty and betrayal, O’Farrell binds her tale of two mothers with poetic mastery. Everything is closely observed, the ordinary and mundane cornered and draped in bright nostalgia. She plays the reader, a third of the book spent with that incomprehensible feeling of dread for a character drawn out so carefully; so intrinsically designed, that their fate becomes one in which the reader shares.

The story dwells upon the lives of two mothers. Lexie, living in 1950’s London is free of all responsibility. She is stunning, gloriously and intimidatingly wonderful. Falling pregnant with Theo shatters none of her journalistic ambitions; and she continues, as a single mother, to gain repute.

Fifty years on and Elina, an artist, arrives home with her first child, only to find herself utterly displaced by a complicated, and almost deadly birth. The sudden rush and flood of blood and her continued weakness haunts her, leaving her unsettled and confused. But whilst Elina gradually heals, partner Ted begins to slide, slowly losing himself. His new role as Father sends him drifting back to a childhood which all at once blurs and un-writes itself. A tale without an end which no longer fits the life he has grounded himself upon.

As the two tales cross and collide, the reader is a confronted with a poignant idea of motherhood. A message which concerns the cost and beauty of such uncompromising love. The book causes it’s characters to stand up, with such force of reality, that the reader can’t help but cry and care for them. Wonderful words are bound so peacefully; they allow the characters to become known, to impart a perfect message with ease and distinction.

A Picture Portrait

1950-60 Bohemian London: Fast paced and fresh. Exciting new progress being made throughout society. Innes, the love of Lexie’s life, shares with her his passion for Art. The paintings he owns remaining as an immortal feature of the novel; they remain a constant, a reminder that whilst lives break apart art stands to serve us, often unshakable in what it insists on saying.

Blood: The opening Elina sections dwell upon the loss of blood. The high quantity, the seeming impossibility of stemming it. The idea that now it is lost, something has peeled itself away from Elina. A part of her shed and left at the hospital. A part she will never regain, tied up in the child she has now to care for constantly. Gaining the baby yet losing an important part of herself through his arrival.

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Favourite Review

For a review which finds more flaw in the novel read this one from The Sleepless Reader:

http://thesleeplessreader.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/the-hand-that-first-held-mine-by-maggie-ofarrell/

Critique

I fail to critique this novel. For me it was far too beautifully crafted. Although if you are queasy, the sections which return to Elina’s birth made my tummy hurt!

Love,

Zoe

4/5 Stars

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