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Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017.
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
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016.
Costa judges comment: “Glasfurd brings the 17th century Netherlands to vivid life in this sensitive, compelling tale of love and loss.”
'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.
|Publication date:||9th February 2017|
|Publisher:||Two Roads an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
Closing date: 30/06/2021
'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
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 MasseMore About Guinevere Glasfurd