Tell us a story

LoveReading is thrilled to announce the launch of The Very Short Story Award 2019! If you think you have a story we'll love, click here to find out more and how to enter:

Find out more

The Words in My Hand

by Guinevere Glasfurd

Debut Books of the Month eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on The Words in My Hand

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016.

January 2016 Debut of the Month.

A gloriously readable and emotional fictional tale based on the relationship between Dutch maid Helena Jans van der Strom and philosopher, mathematician and scientist Rene Descartes, in 17th century Amsterdam. Helena tells her own story, and we have intimate access to her thoughts and feelings as she learns the magic of words, writing and thinking beyond the obvious. It feels as though Guinevere Glasfurd has seen into the heart and soul of Helena, as though this really could be her story. The author also has the gift of shaping the outside world, of painting a vivid picture of life in these times. Sending thoughts skittering down unexpected paths and opening up the world of Descartes,  ‘The Words In My Hand’ is a truly lovely and captivating debut. ~ Liz Robinson

Costa judges comment: “Glasfurd brings the 17th century Netherlands to vivid life in this sensitive, compelling tale of love and loss.”

Liz Robinson

The Words in My Hand Synopsis

'17th-century Amsterdam sparkles into life in this delightful, playful and beautifully written debut. I loved it!' Rachel Hore, bestselling author of A Week In Paris 'Guinevere Glasfurd's writing is fresh and elegant. I loved the subject and the way she brings Amsterdam in the 1600s into vivid, believable life. A lovely book' Dinah Jefferies, bestselling author of The Tea Planter's Wife The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller. When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives - the Monsieur - Mr Sergeant insists everything must be just so. It transpires that the Monsieur is Rene Descartes. This is Helena's story: the woman in front of Descartes, a young woman who yearns for knowledge, who wants to write so badly she makes ink from beetroot and writes in secret on her skin - only to be held back by her position in society. Weaving together the story of Descartes' quest for reason with Helena's struggle for literacy, their worlds overlap as their feelings deepen; yet remain sharply divided. For all Descartes' learning, it is Helena he seeks out as she reveals the surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him. When reputation is everything and with so much to lose, some truths must remain hidden. Helena and Descartes face a terrible tragedy and ultimately have to decide if their love is possible at all.

The Words in My Hand Press Reviews

'17th-century Amsterdam sparkles into life in this delightful, playful and beautifully written debut. I loved it!' Rachel Hore, bestselling author of A WEEK IN PARIS

'Guinevere Glasfurd's writing is fresh and elegant. I loved the subject and the way she brings Amsterdam in the 1600s into vivid, believable life. A lovely book.' Dinah Jefferies, bestselling author of THE TEA PLANTER'S WIFE

If you loved this, you might like these...

The Binding
Into the Night
Roar
The Turn of Midnight

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781473617872
Publication date: 09/02/2017
Publisher: Two Roads an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781473617858
Publication date: 14/01/2016
Publisher: Two Roads an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781473617858
Publication date: 14th January 2016
Author: Guinevere Glasfurd
Publisher: Two Roads an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Hardback
Genres: Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction,
Categories:

About Guinevere Glasfurd

Guinevere Glasfurd's short fiction has appeared in Mslexia, the Scotsman and in a collection from The National Galleries of Scotland. The Words In My Hand, her first novel, was written with the support of a grant from Arts Council England. She manages the Words and Women Twitter feed, a voluntary organisation representing women writers in the East of England and can be found online at guinevereglasfurd.com and @guingb.   Author photo © Stefano Masse

More About Guinevere Glasfurd

More Books By Guinevere Glasfurd

Cover for The Words in My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd
View All Books By Guinevere Glasfurd

Share this book