The Hand That First Held Mine

The Hand That First Held MineHonesty time. Given my book snobbishness, I wasn’t expecting to like this, because it has a chick-lit kind of jacket. I only borrowed it at the library because it was in a Express zone. I know it won the Costa. Prizes don’t mean anything to me, except it does give some name recognition to the winning books.

So. The novel flashes back and forth in time — we’re introduced to Lexie Sinclair in the 50s and Elina and Ted in the present day. Lexie yearns to do something more than what is expected of her (i.e. get married and have children), and gets her chance when she meets Innes Kent, a charming Londoner. Elina and Ted are new parents, struggling to cope with their new lives with a baby in tow.

What I liked about the novel was Lexie’s story. What I didn’t give two poops about was Elina and Ted’s. It was clear from the blurb on the back and the first two chapters that all the characters were connected in some way. So I raced through Lexie’s bits and found Elina and Ted’s sections slightly less interesting.

What let it down — for me — was the cover. I don’t like genre covers. It makes it too easy to dismiss what may otherwise be an excellent novel, but because it’s too ‘chick’ or too ‘crime’, it may be ignored just in case it’s a hopelessly formulaic read-and-instantly-forget waste of time.

On the whole, I’m glad I did give it a chance. But it’s a shame it took me this long. Most of the other books in the Express zone were even more genre-looking, so this was the least-worst option. That’s not exactly what a publisher wants, is it?