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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell (2006)

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English (140)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  All languages (147)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
Compelling story, but I didn't like the devices that the author used and the disjointed way the story was told. I read it on my Kindle, and the first time I came across a paragraph that started with a dash and a sentence fragment I wondered whether the download had been corrupted. Eventually it became clear whose voice that was and that the reader is expected to construct the story from these fragments and Esme's mental wanderings. In my opinion the end did not resolve the relationship between Iris and Alex satisfactorily. ( )
  ValNewHope | Mar 5, 2016 |
I love Maggie O'Farrell and loved this book!! ( )
  ellenuw | Jan 27, 2016 |
This book is very unique. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have never read anything quite like it. I wasn't really pleased with the ending, but I agree with how the author finished the book. I can't wait to read more from this author! ( )
1 vote amyvancura | Jan 25, 2016 |
I didn't like this book at all in the beginning. I felt that it was fragmented and disjointed, reading like a person watching action with little to no understanding of the inner workings of the characters themselves.

However, once I gave myself over to the book, reading story and getting to know the characters, I realized that the writing style became more complicated as the story itself did so. Beautifully written, I was invited inside these people, growing up with them and seeing through their eyes what they saw and felt. I could feel the green satin and the father's slap across his teenage daughter's face.

The one thing from keeping me from giving this book 4 stars was the unbelievably incestuous relationship of Iris and Alex. Instead of being glad they came to grips with their feelings for one another, I was repulsed by the electricity between them. The book would have been so much richer with that distracting story line left on the editor's floor.

This book was heartbreaking, real and had the most bittersweet ending I have read in a long time.

Recommended. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Iris Lockhart, a single woman balancing her career as a vintage clothing shopowner and her love for her married step-brother, suddenly learns that she has a great-aunt Esme Lennox who is due to be released from the mental hospital where she has been institutionalized for 61 years. Iris never knew of Esme's existence and Esme's sister Kitty, Iris' grandmother, lives in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's. Since the hospital Esme has lived in is about to close her doors Iris has no choice but to find another home for her great-aunt, but after visiting a halfway house Iris can't bear to leave the frail elderly woman there and brings Esme home with her. Iris is unsure of Esme's mental state but the two women form a bond as Iris learns of Esme's life before and during her incarceration.

The book is told from Iris' and Esme's viewpoints with a few shorter passages from Kitty. I enjoyed this book so much; it packed a ton of emotion into only 245 pages and I just couldn't put it down. I'm a little unsure of how I feel about the ending and I'll need to think about that some more. Definitely read this one!
( )
1 vote Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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