The Hand That First Held Mine, the latest novel by Irish writer Maggie O’Farrell (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox), is about two women born generations apart. The first, Lexie Sinclair, leaves her conservative family for the life of a bohemian in post-war London after meeting the love of her life over a garden hedge. The second, Elina, is a Finnish artist living with her boyfriend, Ted, and their newborn in modern day London. Elina, who nearly died in childbirth, is recovering from a massive blood loss, while Ted is suddenly haunted by lost memories. Elina’s lethargy and ambivalence toward her baby is perfectly rendered. Any mother will be able to relate to Elina’s near paralysis upon finding herself with a napping child and the unexpected, fragile gift of time for self – so little time, so many things that she would like to do! The novel unfolds slowly, picking up pace as the two women’s stories begin to come together, until the startling, yet satisfying conclusion. Once again, O’Farrell has turned out a lyrical, melancholy tale laced with family secrets.