The Fourth Hand asks an interesting question: “How can anyone identify a dream of the future?” The answer: “Destiny is not imaginable, except in dreams or to those in love."
While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation’s first hand transplant; meanwhile, in the distracting aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, the surgeon is seduced by his housekeeper. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband’s left hand – that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy.
This is how John Irving’s tenth novel begins; it seems, at first, to be a comedy, perhaps a satire, almost certainly a sexual farce. Yet, in the end, The Fourth Hand is as realistic and emotionally moving as any of Mr. Irving’s previous novels – including The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Widow for One Year – or his Oscar-winning screenplay of The Cider House Rules.
The Fourth Hand is characteristic of John Irving’s seamless storytelling and further explores some of the author’s recurring themes – loss, grief, love as redemption. But this novel also breaks new ground; it offers a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to change.
“A RICH AND DEEPLY MOVING TALE . . . Vintage Irving: a story of two very disparate people, and the strange and unexpected ways we grow . . . Irving’s novels are perceptive and precise reflections of the world around us.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“A BLEND OF SEXUAL FARCE, JOURNALISTIC SATIRE, AND TENDER LOVE STORY . . . From what at first seems bizarre, Irving builds the best kind of love story: an improbable one. Wallingford gets more than a transplanted hand; he begins to find his soul.”
“A RIVETING ENTERTAINMENT AND CERTAINLY ONE OF THE FUNNIEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR. The authoritative control of Irving’s storytelling has never been more impressive. . . . The delighted reader is powerless to look away.”
“[A] THOROUGHLY SATISFYING LITERARY EXPERIENCE . . . Irving’s most compassionate and redemptive [novel] to date . . . [His] mastery of characterization is unequaled in American novelists of the day.”
–St. Louis Post Dispatch
“A BEAUTIFUL STORY ABOUT THE REDEMPTIVE POWER OF LOVE.”
–The Denver Post