The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Book - 2006
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Moving between the 1930s and the present, Maggie O'Farrell's new novel is an unforgettable portrait of a woman edited out of her family's history. The heartbreaking tale of two sisters in colonial India and Edinburgh bound together by loneliness and driven apart by rivalries that lead to a cruel betrayal, it is also the gripping story of how, 60 years later, their shocking secret comes to light. An impassioned, intense, haunting family drama, this novel is a stunning imagining of a life stolen, and reclaimed.
Publisher: London : Headline Review, 2006
ISBN: 9781443420105
Characteristics: 245 p. ; 23 cm


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Aug 27, 2018

I'm probably the only reviewer to assign this book a mere 2 stars. Once again, I'm at odds with the vast majority. Sorry, folks, I just could not warm up to this novel.
The basic premise is very intriguing and contains the bones of a great story but somehow it never really came together. The motivations of the main characters are difficult to understand and seem inconsistent. Even Iris, the best of the lot, seemed to lose her way at times. The sheer odiousness of some of the other characters ( who were needed to fill in the gaps) didn't help. Many commentators have praised O'Farrell's language; regrettably, that didn't really work for me either. Too cute and for me bordering on pretentious. I fear my ear for language and style has recently been spoiled by reading several of Kent Haruf's down-to-earth books with their plain language and total lack of ornamentation.
There were moments during my reading when I suspected O'Farrell was channeling Virginia Woolf and not succeeding.
I note that there seem to be very few male readers commenting on the book, which raises the uncomfortable question of whether it is the sort of thing that will appeal only to women. I detest the idea of classifying any book as "chick lit" (insulting term!) but the facts remain .....

Mar 21, 2018

Beautiful and tragic. I read it in one sitting, unable to look away.

CRRL_MegRaymond Oct 09, 2017

Iris gets a stunning phone call - she has a great-aunt named Esme, and Esme is being released from a mental hospital after sixty-one years - can Iris take her in?

Aug 09, 2016

Great ending. I'm not crazy about the author's writing style.

Jun 21, 2016

Thoroughly enjoyable. Quick easy but "stays with you" read.

Nov 18, 2015

Extremely well written! I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend!

Feb 10, 2015

I really enjoyed this book. It highlighted the plight of those confined to asylums as a matter of convenience and misdiagnosis. At the same time, this historical information was interwoven into a great story which told of the jealousies, loyalties, expectations and disappointments between siblings. I will be reading more of Maggie O'Farrell.

Dec 12, 2014

Sad and twisted, a scrumptious read. As the story unfolds, past truths are revealed, and it gets darker. The ending shocked me, I had to read the last couple of pages twice because it caught me off guard. Really enjoyed my time with this book!

Mar 06, 2014

I don't know what I was doing when this book came out, but boy did I miss a good one! This is the story of Iris a single young woman who possibly is in love with her step brother (just as an aside). Iris is contacted by an insane asylum regarding the release of a great aunt, Esme, Iris never even knew existed. The story goes back and forth beautifully between the childhood of Esme and Kitty (Iris' grandmother who is in a nursing home for Alzheimer's) and the present life of the three women. At first it was a bit confusing to figure out who was "talking" when as there are no different fonts to distinguish the storytellers, but you quickly figure out who's point of view the story is coming from.
I read this book in less than 24 hours, a new record for me as I am a slow reader, but I just could not put this down. The writing was superb! The author really kept you engaged throughout the story. There is scandal, mystery, twists and turns to be had.

Dec 05, 2013

This was one of my favourite books of the year, and quite possibly of the past decade. Maggie O'Farrell perfected the balance of what to reveal and when, and what to just let peek out. This novel is very dark, and very twisted - as it often is when a novel is written about a family. O'Farrell mastered the effect of knowing just how much the reader really wants to know - after all a book like this doesn't have the same impact if every secret is revealed. It worms its way into your thoughts there and stays there for weeks - maybe even months. I would rank this book as a top 3 contender for books I've read this year, if not THE best book I have read this year. If you liked this, you might enjoy The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield For a full review, head to my blog at OboeChica Books (so long and thanks for all the fish).

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