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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie…
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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006)

by Maggie O'Farrell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3501572,676 (3.81)282
  1. 20
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    The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: Very similar in tone and several thematic elements.
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  4. 10
    The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Maggie O'Farrell says that The Yellow Wallpaper was a major influence in writng The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
  5. 10
    Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg (amyblue)
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Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
Intriguing sad story. The story begins with the two sisters, Kitty and Esme. Soon we learn that Esme has been committed to a woman's asylum. But is she really insane? Told from the different characters points on view, sometimes in a jumbled fashion of memories, Iris, Esme and Kitty weave the tale between Scotland and India, about how non-conforming behavior got Esme committed, but is she a bit insane too? ( )
  nancynova | Jun 7, 2017 |
Poor, poor Esme. Locked away in an asylum at 16 for 60+ years for no reason really. Her whole life, snatched away from her, her child, her family - everything just gone for the length of a life time.

As previous reviewers of this book have mentioned, its best to just get immersed into this book without an preconceptions, without knowing too much and going on Esme's journey with her. Along the way, we meet and get to know Kitty - Esme's sister, whom I'm not very fond of. Also her parents, again, I found to not be very nice people. And Iris, who gets the phone call about her great-aunt Esme who she has never heard of and who is being released from a psychiatric unit as the hospital is closing down. This news is of a shock to her but she has to find out if Esme is actually related to her and what to do with her essentially.

The writing style of this book through me initially. I started reading this book before bed and thought I would read to the end of the first chapter.... ermm, what chapter!? There aren't any! But that didn't stop the book flowing, the only difficulty it made for me was knowing when to stop reading. Instead of reading for 10-15 mins, an hour later, I was still holding this little book in the dim light of my lamp ploughing through the pages!

Before starting the book, I'd obviously read the back of it, but I just needed to see how it was going to develop, a thirst for what was going to happen to Esme and how she ended up in the psychiatric unit in the first place. The characters were just excellent, you get a real feel for each of them, how they think, what they are like.

And the ending, I had to re-read it, 3 times actually. Before the realisation dawned on me on what actually had happened!! And to me, it was well written and an appropriate ending for the terrific book. ( )
  Nataliec7 | May 30, 2017 |
While the story was compelling I found it confusing at times to follow the narrative. I realize this was meant to convey the confusion of a person with Alzheimer's but still, it was difficult to follow those passages at times. Also frustrating was the gap between Esme's early years in the asylum until the present day. I wanted to know more.

This would make a good discussion book; I find myself wanting to discuss it with someone who has read the book!

Recommended. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
In a literary sense there was much to admire about this novel. There is a feeling of spaciousness about it - it isn't cluttered up with unnecessary description or back-story, there is just enough information there for you to work out what is happening, and appreciate the contrast in the degree to which the character Iris is in control of her life and her relationships with the men in her life, and the way in which her aged relative Esme had been treated. Even the text is set out with space between the lines which made for a straightforward reading experience. You can't help but feel a degree of outrage at the treatment of women in the early part of the last century. But it was very much a cerebral experience, not one I'd describe as gripping, or as a page-turner. ( )
  jayne_charles | Dec 1, 2016 |
I liked this alot but the ending bugged me. I wanted more. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Much Madness is divinest Sense--

To a discerning eye--

Much Sense--the starkest Madness--

'Tis the Majority

In this, as All, prevail--

Assent--and you are sane--

Demur--and you're straightaway dangerous--

And handled with a Chain--

Emily Dickinson
I couldn't have my happiness made out of a wrong-- an unfairness-- to somebody else . . . What sort of a life could we build on such foundations?

Edith Wharton
Dedication
for Saul Seamus
First words
Let us begin with two girls at a dance.
Quotations
This girl is remarkable to her. She is a marvel. From all her family – her and Kitty and Hugo and all the other babies and her parents – from all of them, there is only this girl. She is the only one left. They have all narrowed down to this black-haired girl sitting o the sand, who has no idea that her hands and her eyes and the tilt of her head and the fall of her hair belong to Esme's mother. We are all, Esme decides, just vessels through which identities pass: we are lent features, gestures, habits, then we hand them on. Nothing is our own. We begin in the world as anagrams of our antecedents.
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Book description
In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for over sixty years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But Esme’s still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

Maggie O’Farrell’s intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth will haunt readers long past its final page.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0151014116, Hardcover)

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. 

Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

A gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will haunt you long past its final page.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend's attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital -- where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years. A family member who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?… (more)

» see all 8 descriptions

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