The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Maggie O’Farrell takes readers on a journey to the darker places of the human heart, where desires struggle with the imposition of social mores. This haunting story explores the seedy past of Victorian asylums, the oppression of family secrets, and the way truth can change everything.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 rec...

Details The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

TitleThe Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
Release DateFeb 26th, 2013
PublisherHeadline Review
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary

Reviews The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

  • Laura
    Man, I love to read. Opening a book by an author you've never read is like having a plane ticket to an unknown destination. You don't know where you're going, or exactly when you'll arrive. You just have to trust the pilot to get you there in one piece, hopefully with a smile on your face. Maggie O'Farrell doesn't disappoint, let me just tell you.I don't think I'd have ever added this book if I paid lots of attention to the title or the cover. Bo...
  • Anna
    This book just ends. That's it. You have to really use your imagination to understand what happens. The story was good, I just would like it to have ended different. And there were a couple of subplots that did not play out, even though the author could have done something with them.
  • Phrynne
    This is a lovely, lovely book and I am amazed I have not read it before. I did not know what I was missing! It's not an easy book to review because you do need to come to it with no preconceived ideas about the content. Enough to say that it involves a family, a lot of memories about the past and a rather good ending! The writing is just beautifully done especially the way the author moves between the memories of Kitty and Esme, dropping clues al...
  • Kristijan
    Ovo je moj prvi susret sa Megi O'Farel i moram priznati da me nije ostavio ravnodušnim. Kako je nestajala Esmi Lenoks je izuzetan roman koji govori o ljudskom licemerju, licu i naličju jednog društva kojeg vode društveno prihvaćene šeme ponašanja pri čemu se sve što od njih odstupa stigmatizuje kao čista devijacija. Ovo je i roman o krađi: ličnosti, originalnosti ali pre svega budućnosti. Ali pre svega, ovo je roman o jednoj velikoj ...
  • Angela M
    The opening of this novel reflects the simple beauty and power of O'Farrell's writing and I was immediately drawn into this story.“Let us begin with two girls at a dance. They are at the edge of the room. One sits on a chair, opening and shutting a dance-card with gloved fingers. The other stands beside, watching the dance unfold: the circling couples, the clasped hands, the drumming shoes, the whirling skirts, the bounce of the floor. It is th...
  • Dem
    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a beautifully written and haunting story about a woman who has been unjustly incarcerated in a mental hospital at a very young age and has remained there for over sixty years. The hospital is now closing down and the inhabitants have to be rehoused. The story is set between the 1930s and the present day.The story is intelligently told and the plot is really well-thought out so there were enough twists and turns...
  • Bettie☯
    Hannah Gordon, Frances Grey and Eleanor Bron begin Maggie O'Farrell's highly acclaimed novel set between the conventions of 1930's Edinburgh and the freedoms of today. 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 kn...
  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    Every now and then you come across a book so perfectly whole, so complete in itself, that you marvel as you read. It has such flow, such control of style, such effortless prose, that it's almost impossible to put it down. Such a book is The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which I could have easily read in one sitting except I had to go to work.The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is the story of three women and the burning secrets that affected them al...
  • Diane S ☔
    I'm not sure that any review can actually do this book justice. It is emotionally powerful and powerfully heartbreaking, such a short book to convey so much emotion and so much depth. Hard to believe there was a time when a young girl or wife or mother could be committed to a psychiatric institute indefinitely just on the say so of a doctor, a mother,a jealous sister, a father or a husband. But there was. The writing in this book is deceptively s...
  • Chrissie
    The theme of this book is the ease with which women in the past could be incarcerated in an insane asylum, often simply at the whim of a family relative. A secondary theme is the subordinate role of women in times past. Get married and have kids; that was our role. Times have changed, thankfully, but even back then some women would not be shoved into that mold. If you read two books that are similar, it is impossible not to make comparisons. I ha...
  • Chari
    Otra estupenda lectura, la tercera que llevo de esta autora, que me deja con muchas ganas de seguir leyéndola.
  • Lindsay
    The human brain is a tricky thing and O'Farrell has provided readers with a fascinating look into the psyche of three women in "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox." Iris learns of her great aunt's existence when the mental institution in which Esme has been living for the past 60 years contacts her about its upcoming closure. Her inability to go on living as though this woman never existed begins the unraveling of a dark family mystery that few cou...
  • Carol
    Unforgettable book with a stunning ending that will haunt me for some time to come. This is an outstanding book and a tragic and disturbing story...believable because what was done to Esme may not have been a rare occurrence for women in that time. As a child and young woman, Esme was naïve yet spirited…an independent thinker, which confounded her family. It is no secret that Esme was locked away in an institution for 61 years. The story is to...
  • Lidia
    4,5. Hay personajes con los que resulta muy fácil empatizar e incluso sentirte un poco identificada. Esme. Esa chica que prefería leer a hacer lo que se esperaba de ella por su condición de mujer. Esme la rara. Y cuando una es rara o incómoda en una época donde la mujer no vale nada y está bajo la tutela del hombre (padre o marido), entonces "desaparece".Me ha encantado la narrativa de Maggie, la estructura... al principio un poco caótica ...
  • Raquel
    Una historia victoriana, nunca suficientemente contada, narrada con un estilo actual, fresco y ágil. Érase una vez una chica a la que la tocó vivir en una época en la que ser una misma y disfrutar de la propia felicidad estaba condenado con un nombre: histeria. Y el castigo era el encierro en un psiquiátrico. ¿Qué es eso de no llevar guantes? ¿Qué es eso de no querer casarse y decir que quieres ir a la Universidad? ¿Qué es eso de no mo...
  • Sonia Gomes
    Esmee Lennox incarcerated in a mental asylum at the age of sixteen for sixty years only because she did not fit in with the time, besides she is a convenient scapegoat for the mother, in whose absence the little brother Hugo dies and Esmee remains with the little dead brother for 3 days alone in a house with no one else. Esmee has a wild sort of beauty that attracts Jamie, Esmee is not so attracted to him, she loves reading, studying but is just ...
  • Pamela
    This is one of those stories that has all the components of greatness--a well-concieved, interesting trajectory, mystery, betrayal, tragedy, paralleling societal and family injustice and feminist themes. There are also some moments of lovely poetry in O'Farrell's writing style. I should have loved it, and I certainly gobbled it up, reading it much more voraciously than I usually read novels. But this novel is simply not fully formed, and therefor...
  • Shawn Mooney
    I’m a bit late to the O’Farrell party, but I think I might be here to stay! A fascinatingly screwed-up woman discovers a great-aunt she never knew about, now released from a psychiatric institution after more than 5 decades; as secret after secret unfurls, as she begins to take responsibility for this aunt, the protagonist begins to own her own secret, illicit desires. In economical, deceptively simple prose, O’Farrell roped me all the way ...
  • Nicole
    My favorite book so far this year, and I have a feeling it will be one of the top three once 2009 comes to an end. A great book!Interesting, intriguing, sad, suspenseful, shocking are some of the words I would use to describe this book...and the best part is that it all came perfectly together at the end. Definitely going to look into reading more by this author!
  • Jim
    Maggie O'Farrell's new novel asks the question: What do you do if the local psychiactric hospital calls to tell you you've got a great aunt you never knew you had? Iris Lockhart doesn't want to bring a lady who may or may not be crazy into her house, but with her parents gone and her grandmother, Kitty, suffering from alzheimers disease, she hasn't got much family left and Aunt Esme throws everything Iris thinks she knows into question. It's a co...
  • Lisa McLemon
    I'm having trouble summing up this book. It's very complex, it's horrifying and it's very, very sad.Iris Lockhart starts getting phone calls one day from a mental institution named Cauldstone claiming that she is listed as the contact for one Esme Lennox - the sister of Iris' grandmother, Katherine (Kitty). Iris insists there must be a mistake, because Katherine never, ever mentioned having a sister. The paperwork proves it, however, and Iris is ...
  • Myra
    I borrowed this book from my friend Tara, and was it ever a great recommendation!The very nature of this novel makes it a hard one to do a review on without giving away the best parts of the book. As the story unfolds that surrounds Esme, Iris, and Kitty, the words and feelings have a way of touching the reader quite deeply. As I was making my way through this novel, there came a point where the story held me captive and pushed my emotions to the...
  • Cristina
    Un libro que me llegó por casualidad y cuya lectura ha supuesto el descubrimiento de una autora que me ha picado totalmente.Una narración compleja y rica, una protagonista maravillosa que esconde mucho y unos secundarios que completan un puzzle sin dejar un solo hueco.Desde luego, breve pero lleno de emociones.Sinceramente, cuando he leído la última letra quería más, no quería dejar a esas dos mujeres. Supongo que eso dice algo.
  • Colleen
    Locked up decades ago for such outlandish behavior as dancing, Esme Lennox is finally released when her asylum is shut down. Esme is thrust into the care of her grand-niece Iris, a modern young women whose struggle to overcome her "unnatural" love for her step-brother gives her more in common with Esme than either could imagine. As Iris tries to unravel the mystery of Esme's existence, she learns more (though ultimately not enough) about her hidd...
  • Elena
    Una novela que esconde más de lo que a simple vista puede parecer. Brillante narración aunque también compleja, ha habido veces que me perdía (no sabía bien quién era el narrador, pasado unas páginas ya no dudaba). Una historia en la que conforme avanzas encajan todas las piezas y te quedas con ganas de leer más.
  • Katy Noyes
    An amazing novel. I'd put this off for a year or more - always something new and crisp to get to first! - and really wish I'd read this a long time ago.Sometimes books about mental illness and split time periods are very confusing, but I didn't find this with Esme at all. I was riveted. I was aching to know just what had caused Esme to be locked in an 'asylum' for more than six decades. What her connection was to Iris, what secrets the past would...
  • Sonja Arlow
    I never go onto Goodreads topic discussion groups, but for some reason last week I started reading the responses in a group called Most Underrated Books and found this book mentioned there.That reminded me that I had earmarked this book a year ago and promptly forgot about it. To be honest the book reminded me a lot of What She Left Behind so I found it difficult not to compare the two.The story alternates between Iris, Esme and Kitty however as ...
  • Annie
    The plot sounded interesting enough: Iris, a vintage clothes shop owner, is suddenly contacted about the care of a great aunt she never knew she had, Esme. Esme is being released from a mental institution (it's closing down) where she has lived for 60 years. Iris's parents are both deceased; her only relative is her grandmother, Kitty, who is currently battling Alzheimer's in a care center. There were no chapters and the perspectives would shift ...
  • Ron Charles
    Maggie O'Farrell's three previous novels have been respectfully reviewed, but her new one radiates the kind of energy that marks a classic. Think Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Charlotte Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" or Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea: stories that illuminate the suffering quietly endured by women in polite society. To that list of insightful feminist tales add The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. At the heart of this fantastic new no...
  • Megan
    SERIOUSLY?! THAT'S HOW THIS BOOK ENDS?! What a goddamn waste of my time.I hated this book until the last bit, when we finally get to see Esme's admission to the home through her eyes. Then I got teary and could really appreciate the story. But then it went right back to that horrible writing style. I get that Kitty has dementia or Alzheimer's or whatever, but does the author have any idea how horribly distracting it is to read a book from the poi...