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155 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning
Oh no, another favourite author releasing a new title - cue the sickening feelings of anxiety when I settle into the story , wondering if it will meet my expectations but any fears are quickly assuaged as I become immersed in this, Maggie O' Farrell's fifth novel. I devoured it in a few sittings - one of those books you are eager to embrace but loath to leave...
Published on 17 Jun 2010 by Lovely Treez

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
This novel was a huge disappointment, coming from a writer whose work I have enjoyed. The only character who was remotely interesting was Lexie and even she was superficial. The rest were a bunch of self obsessed people who weren't worth anyone's attention.

I found Elina's character totally unbelievable. Her so called post-natal depression was poorly portrayed...
Published 10 months ago by L. Bamfield Gee


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Divided opinion, 15 July 2011
By 
Emma B "Em" (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
It's an interesting book and one that I found I was completely immersed in due to the clever twists in the tale that caught me out. To her credit, the author leaves us in suspense until over half way through.

My only negative comment is that the theme of motherhood is clearly a big feature of this novel alongside ghosts of the past yet Margot receives what I feel is a harsh judgement. As one who is experiencing IVF and bore the loss of childlessness I feel it could make tough reading. Whilst her character is not the most important in the book, the dismissive approach to her state made her appear less vulnerable and a rather superficial and contrived parent.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars V enjoyable read, 20 Aug 2010
By 
Sadaf Lynes (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Recommended by my husband who knew I loved the vanishing act of Esme lennox, I really enjoyed reading this. Esme lennox is better and I guessed the plot early on ( sorry hubby!) but Maggie o' farrells style in character description is wonderful and you feel what the characters are feeling which is a rare art.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very boring at first, 7 July 2013
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At first I would have given up on this book,had it not been for the book club.
However the last third really gripped me a thought provoking book which
will stay with me.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many fivers, 15 April 2011
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K. Sewell (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hand That First Held Mine (Paperback)
I've read three of Maggie's novels and yes, she is a good writer. This novel was tedious to begin with but it slowly warmed up, even though the resolution was no surprise (but then it doesn't claim to be a thriller).

These are my critisisms:
Far, far too many pages devoted to rather self-indulgent descriptions, trying to imbue the most mundane things with some other-worldly significance. I did not find this poetic or moving... I simply skipped those pages so that I could get on with the actual story.
I thought Ted and Alina were a couple of totally fey and dizzy people with eye-distortions, fainting spells, feelings of unreality, memory losses... etc. etc. In fact their baby should be whipped to safety until the two of them had grown up and had a good long spot of psychotherapy.
I was annoyed by the constant changes of point of view (individuals' perspective), the jumping about of tenses, and to the reader, the condescending explanations of where in the story we found ourselves.
Having said all this, I still admire Maggie and her writing. I don't know her age, but I predict that she might be a very great writer when she is older, wiser and humbler.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favourite book, 9 Jun 2010
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Pippin - See all my reviews
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The review in The Guardian made me think I would love everything about this book, and I do. It was compared to Behind the Scenes at the Museum, one of my all-time favourites, and it's a good comparison, but I like this better.

Other reviewers have given a good idea of the concept and the plot. Unlike some I was gripped by the story of Elina and her newborn in the first half, dreading with every turn of the page that something terrible was going to happen.

I was rooting for both the brilliant main characters, especially Lexie. But be warned that there are some truly evil characters too, and this is a tragic, poignant story. Prepare for a wonderful read and also for a good cry.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring! !, 1 Jan 2014
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A complete waste of time and torture to read. I managed 25% of the book but just couldn't face any more. The characters were so boring that I wasn't really concerned how their story turned out anyway. I really don't know what the author was trying to achieve but this book was a load of old drivel
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted - but also predictable..., 4 May 2010
I should start by saying that it is hard to write this review without revealing any of the plot. There are no spoilers in here but it's hard to fully explain a comment about the plot without referencing exactly what part of the plot I found predictable! If anyone dislikes the review because of this I'd be happy to go into more detail but feel it only fair that folks have a 'review' which doesn't totally spoil a story they may have been looking forward to reading!
Now, the review...
I loved the Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and was excited by the appearance of O'Farrell's latest novel.
It was equally beautifully written with some very lyrical passages which played like narrative jazz.
However, at times it felt like style over substance. The rather tired narrative device of switching from Elina and Ted in the present day to Lexie in the past felt, dare I say it, boring. I had been expecting something more original. This was a quite a meaty book - possibly her longest book to date, and I found that it dragged at times. Personally, I found the connection between the present and the past quite obvious - although there was definitley a sting in the tail at the end of Part One - thankfully (!).Until that plot twist I was finding the book quite laborious - a beautifully written road to cliched nowhere. Part Two was the salvation of the plot (although I guessed the relationships part way through Part Two but the 'how' didn't get answered until virtually the last page. This made me race to finish!. I was very moved at the end and felt I had really come to know Lexie and Elina (even Margot). The impression O'Farrell drew of them all was insightful and proof that the devil is in the detail (for example, I never really 'got' Elina until O'Farrell describes her clothing when they are in Lyme Regis and the other mother looks at her with 'incomprehension..distate').
Overall it is a book of two halves - the first half was a struggle, the second a mighty gem.
It's well worth pursuing this one just be aware that you may find (like me) that it doesn't have the immediate appeal of Esme Lennox.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Hand That First Held Mine (Paperback)
Fine
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8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 7 Feb 2011
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This review is from: The Hand That First Held Mine (Paperback)
I bought this book with great expectations given the favourable reviews here. The novel is a great disappointment. The characters are extremely dull, I could not engage with them and the plot plods along. I had very little interest as to what happened these tedious characters.I simply cannot understand the accolades this book received.
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The hand that first held mine, 27 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Hand That First Held Mine (Paperback)
Very disappointed in this novel. Ploughed through it and found it could have been a short story. Too much irrelevant narrative detail "She breathed in, she breathed out". My goodness don't we all?

Too prosaic. I am surprised Headline published it. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox was so much better and extremely enjoyable to read.
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The Hand That First Held Mine
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell (Paperback - 21 Oct 2013)
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