Held by Anne Michaels


‘Through luminous moments of chance, change, and even grace, Michaels shows us our humanity – its depths and shadows’ MARGARET ATWOOD
The triumphant new novel from the author of the Orange Prize-winning Fugitive Pieces– a soaring and luminous story of chance and change
1917. On a battlefield near the River Escaut, John lies in the aftermath of a blast, unable to move or feel his legs. Struggling to focus his thoughts, he is lost to memory a chance encounter in a pub by a railway, a hot bath with his lover on a winter night, his childhood on a faraway coast as the snow falls.

1920. John has returned from war to North Yorkshire, near another river alive, but not still whole. Reunited with Helena, an artist, he reopens his photography business and endeavours to keep on living. But the past erupts insistently into the present, as ghosts begin to surface in his pictures- ghosts whose messages he cannot understand.

So begins a narrative that spans four generations, moments of connection and consequence igniting and re-igniting as the century unfolds. In luminous moments of desire, comprehension, longing, transcendence, the sparks fly upward, working their transformations decades later.

Held is a novel like no other, by a writer at the height of her powers- affecting and intensely beautiful, full of mystery, wisdom and compassion.
‘I am blown away by the scale, beauty, weave and thinking of this book … It dances with words, time and ideas in a way that seems to reinvent everything I know about the novel’ RACHEL JOYCE