Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016
Shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2017
‘Excellent… an entirely unsentimental love story with a memorable and engaging heroine. Clever and touching’ The Times (Book of the Month)
The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th century Amsterdam working for an English bookseller. One day a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives – the Monsieur – who turns out to be René Descartes.
At first encounter the maid and the philosopher seem to have little in common, yet Helena yearns for knowledge and literacy – wanting to write so badly that she uses beetroot for ink and her body as paper.
And the philosopher, for all his learning, finds that it is Helena who reveals the surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him, as gradually their relationship deepens in a surprising story of love and learning.
‘An accomplished first novel… Glasfurd brilliantly dissects the complex frustrations of a woman in love with a man consumed by intellectual obsessions. There is much to move us here’ Guardian