The Words In My Hand

The Words In My Hand The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans a Dutch maid in th century Amsterdam who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrive

  • Title: The Words In My Hand
  • Author: Guinevere Glasfurd
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 329
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • 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 Ren Descartes.This is Helena s story the woman in front of Descartes,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 Ren 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.

    One thought on “The Words In My Hand”

    1. ‘’Didn’t they know I had used the last of my paper on this work? The new paper I wanted, bought with money I’d never have, blew about my head, tumbling like leaves in a gale. I saw birds, caught in the storm, taken higher and higher, quills blown to the top of the sky.’’In one of my recent reviews, I wrote about debuts and how fortunate we readers are to live in a time that constantly gives us more and more examples of authors whose first forays to the world of Literature are excepti [...]

    2. The Words in my Hand is a fictitious account of the real life relationship between French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) and a housemaid named Helena Jans van der Strom.René Descartes ()Forced by circumstances to seek work, Helena sets off for Amsterdam in the hope of finding employment with a wealthy merchant family. ”I could read and write. I knew my prayers. I could cook, draw water and lay a fire. In time, I would learn everything I needed to. Someone would have need of a girl li [...]

    3. After having finished this book, I am left somewhat confused. This is a historical novel based on René Descartes and his secret love affair with a woman named Helena. It is set in The Netherlands, and the first half of the novel was beautiful. The tension between Helena and Descartes was nicely depicted, and the way things developed had me hooked. However, having now finished the book I can't help but wonder what was the purpose? I feel like the book is too accurate a depiction of their relatio [...]

    4. The beginning description of Amsterdam was truly lovely. Description of the other Dutch cities (Deventer, Leiden and Santpoort) fall short. I am not convinced that the author has correctly drawn the relationship between René Descartes and Helena Jans van der Strom. We know that in the year 1634 she was a maid in the house of English bookseller Thomas Sergeant at Westermarkt 6, Amsterdam, while Descartes was in residence there too. We also know that he was the father of the child she gave birth [...]

    5. Ma chronique : unjour-unlivre/2016/10/les-Magnifique et bouleversant, ce roman revient sur la mystérieuse idylle entre Descartes et une jeune servante hollandaise. J'ai été prise dans un tourbillon d'émotions à la lecture de ce livre, qui m'aura beaucoup rappelé Une Vie de Maupassant : une femme qui rêve de savoirs et de connaissances mais qui est systématiquement rappelée à sa condition féminine par les hommes qui l'entourent. C'est un roman basé sur des faits historiques réels, à [...]

    6. Maravilloso, de verdad. Es de lo mejorcito que he leído en los últimos tiempos. El libro está narrado en primera persona por Helena, que es la protagonista absoluta de la obra, una simple doncella en el siglo XVII que sabe lo que la lectura y la escritura pueden cambiar el mundo, el de las mujeres, su mundo. Está escrito de forma maravillosa, mostrándonos la forma en la que ser mujer significaba ser nada en esos tiempos, y ser mujer humilde era ser menos todavía. Pero Helena no es una muje [...]

    7. Tripping back in time to early 17th Century NETHERLANDSI had been eyeing this novel up for a while, having been drawn to the fetching cover of the hardback edition. My interest was further piqued when it was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016.It is a story based on the relationship that developed between Helena Jans and the philosopher René Descartes. Helena arrives in Amsterdam in 1634, and is taken into service as a scullery maid by Englishman Mr Sergeant, the owner of a booksho [...]

    8. I was lucky enough to receive this as an ARC through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review, but I would happily have paid for it. This book interested me because of its fictional telling of a period in the life of Rene Descartes. As someone with a philosophy degree and a massive fan of Descartes it intrigued me. I was not disappointed. The author takes some historical facts and imagines how they may have come to be. The novel revolves around Descartes’ relationship with Helena Jans and i [...]

    9. This is the story of Helena Jans and her love with René Descartes. That in itself makes it an interesting read, with the time period written about beautifully- I felt I was there. Anyone can understand Helena's hunger for more, for her passions but we live in a different time (world) therefore, reading about it from her perspective gave the story a far more personal touch. Does she have hardships? Naturally. It ended up being sadder than I expected, and who doesn't love a story about a woman wh [...]

    10. A story based in speculation about facts – what caused Descartes to have a friendship with Helena, a maid? And how did Helena manage to learn to read and write when it was extremely uncommon amongst women of the Quality, let alone a maid?Well, the author has made some suggestions within this book that link the facts in a way that makes total sense – with perhaps a little embroidery here and there, just to flesh out the known characters and known occurrences.This is a sensitive tale of a youn [...]

    11. Extremely and wonderfully atmospheric. I couldn't put it down. Based on the real story of Renè Descartes and Helena Jans. The mood of the book reminded me a bit of "The girl with the pearl earring "." "Loneliness is not the same as being alone; one can choose to be alone, seek it out, desire it perhaps. Loneliness asserts itselfThe feeling, it is a weight, here". He pressed his hand where his ribs met. "It is suffocation." "

    12. The Words in My Handpiqued my interest because it’s a reimagining of a relationship between a Dutch maid and René Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician who is on my radar because The Spouse is studying him this year at Monash. If you’ve read Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (or seen the film) then you know the script: domestic servant to Somebody Eminent forms special relationship and in some way contributes to The Work of the Great Man but slips back into obscurity [...]

    13. Great historical novel, based on the few facts that are known about a maid who gave birth to Rene Descartes daughter. Set in 1600s Netherlands, you get a very real sense of how the lives of women were restricted, by class as well as by society in general. Helena is unusual in that she was able to write but her life was still largely dictated by the men around her. A tragic love story that will appeal to fans of The Girl With A Pearl Earring and to those who enjoyed The Minaturist.

    14. (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)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 René Descartes.This is Helena's story: the woman in front of Descartes, a young woman who yearns for knowledg [...]

    15. 4 Stars. I enjoyed reading this novel but somehow it didn't reach my favourites list which surprised and disappointed me a bit. The premise sounded so interesting and it was, but yet I felt a little removed from the characters in the story rather than immersed in it. But, on the positive side there is much to recommend this novel. It is interesting how the author focuses on Descartes's lover, a maid, and her child,) rather than Descartes himself. One that philosophy students and historians will [...]

    16. *3,5 Sterne*Klappentext:„René Descartes und Helena Jans van der Strom – eine nie erzählte wahre GeschichteHelena Jans van der Strom arbeitet als Magd bei einem Buchhändler in Amsterdam. Ein großes Glück für sie, denn sie liest und schreibt und kann ihrer Leidenschaft heimlich nachgehen. Der neue Hausgast ihres Herrn fasziniert sie: Er arbeitet ununterbrochen, und er zieht viele Besucher an. Sie erfährt seinen Namen: René Descartes. Sie ist zu neugierig, um Distanz zu wahren. Und auch [...]

    17. From the moment I began reading this novel I was drawn into Helena Jans’ world. At the risk of sounding like I am overstating the matter, there was some stunningly beautiful writing. I cannot think of any other way to say it. Guinevere Glasfurd has taken what little we know of Helena Jans and woven an evocative story of a passionate thinker and the young maid whose simple observations and desire to learn capture his mind.The entire novel is written in the first person from Helena’s point of [...]

    18. Visit the Netherlands as you have never seen it before! Meet Descartes and the woman who changed his life Come to Amsterdam with Guinevere GlasfurdThis novel is by far one of the most beautifully written, evocative and stunning I’ve ever read. Oh to see such a world through the eyes of Helena was a magical and fascinating journey. I felt as if the writer picked me up and put me in the costumes, the rooms of the day and I too left my slippers in the room when Helena did as she had to leave quic [...]

    19. DON'T read the book blurb above - there are spoilers!---This is a lovely book, and very impressive for a debut novel. We know very little about Helena Jans, the woman who bore a child to René Descartes, so Glasfurd fills in the gaps with her imagination. Helena was able to read and write, very rare for a maid of her time. Glasfurd's description of how she may have come by this knowledge and how she may have developed it, without access to paper or ink, is thoroughly engrossing. I saw Glasfurd d [...]

    20. This is the story of the relationship between Helena Jans and Rene Descartes, told from the viewpoint of Helena. Set in the early 1600's, in Amsterdam, it follows the very hard existence of Helena and her need to learn. She has little or no access to things we would take for granted such as paper and pens, so she traces letters and words onto the palm of her hand, and then makes a crude ink from beetroot and writes onto her skin, trailing words up her arms. Seeing the world through Helena's eyes [...]

    21. Though this is interesting story, I found it hard to warm to the main character. It's understandable that she feels used by those around her, women as well as men, and it's understandable that she's frustrated by Descartes' unwillingness to take the relationship further - although given the times it was unlikely he ever would. The novel takes what little is known about Helena Jans van der Strom, the servant girl who bore Descartes' daughter, and weaves it into a full-blown story: real characters [...]

    22. This was an ok read for me and I think more because I did not feel a connection with the main character at all and as well as that did not feel transported to the story at all. Historical novels have the ability to take me to another time and place, but The Words in my Hand failed to take me there with them! I felt that I was watching it from afar! I did like the idea of the story and I did feel a sense of wonder and awe at the new things in life that Helena was experiencing. An ok read but not [...]

    23. This wasn't a bad book at all but I did not feel transported to the time/place at any one point. I had to remind myself we were in the 17th century on several occasions, such as when a physician was called and all he could recommend as treatment was blood-letting. For a few seconds this puzzled me until I reminded myself that the year was 1640. The story was oddly 'modern' and disconnected from its time which detracted a lot from the impact of the book.

    24. A partir de la liaison que Descartes a entretenu avec une jeune servante hollandaise, Helena, l'auteure nous offre une très belle histoire qui met en avant la condition des femmes à cette époque (et tout le chemin parcouru depuis).

    25. All You Had To Do Was Look.This very readable novel, the first by Guinevere Glasfurd, is about observation, that is, different forms of perception and how we shape them to align ourselves to prejudice, abandonment, disease, love and nurturing. The book is also about space, the dimensions we allow ourselves to grow, and how Helena moulds them to define herself as a a stand-alone woman in hostile territory. The space of the dull, airless rooms of Amersfoort, the liminal dune-space of Sandfoort, of [...]

    26. When housemaid Helena encounters the infamous René Descartes, two totally disparate world collide with surprising effects.My goodness The Words in My Hand is a wonderful, wonderful book. Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016 it represents the kind of novel that epitomises perfect literary fiction for me.Unique in style, Guinevere Glasfurd has an authorial voice that is almost mystical and draws in the reader so that the more of Helena’s story was revealed, the more hypnotised by th [...]

    27. I found this a strange combination of a seemingly simply written story that raises some really thoughtful and serious ideas. On the one hand it came across a bit like a popular YA novel, but on the other an intriguing rewriting based on a very limited number of historical traces.The Netherlands, mid-17th century: a time of science, progress, economic development. But not necessarily for all. Helena Jans travels from Leiden to Amsterdam to work as a maid because the money is needed. She ends up a [...]

    28. The blurb: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 René 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 [...]

    29. The Words in My Hand tells the story of Helena, a maid working in Seventeenth Century Amsterdam for an English bookseller. Yearning for Literacy and education, she develops a liaison with the ‘ Monsieur’, the philosopher Renee Descartes, who is lodging at the house. The story is based on a few scanty facts. Thomas Sergeant was a bookseller living in Amsterdam, Helena Jans Once was his maid. In 1653, she gave birth to a daughter, and Descartes was the Father. As the Historical notes tell us, [...]

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