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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox Hardcover – 28 Aug 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; First edition edition (28 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755308433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755308439
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of five novels, After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and The Hand That First Held Mine. Born in Northern Ireland, Maggie grew up in Wales and Scotland. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Product Description

Review

'O'Farrell's imaginative territory is one you return to with delight' -- Amanda Craig, The Times

'One of our most interesting and popular young novelists... richly imaginative... superb' -- Barbara Trapido, Independent

Book Description

Maggie O'Farrell is a consistent Sunday Times bestseller in both hardback and paperback. Her novels are word of mouth phenomena: AFTER YOU'D GONE has now sold 300,000 copies, and there are three quarters of a million Maggie O'Farrell novels in print.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on 6 Jun 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the first Maggie O'Farrell book I've read and I loved it. Will definitely be reading more of her in the future.

I loved this book. I whizzed through it in a weekend it was so unputdownable. Although the author's writing style is kept very simple and the story is revealed through minimum facts, there is still something about it that really made me empathise with Esme. I felt genuinely moved by the loss of her life to a mental institution. it was such a heart-wrenching read in that respect. I thought the characterisation of Esme was fabulous - one of the best female characters I've read for a long time. I think Iris and A;ex were slightly weaker characters and I think the author could have done a bit more to develop them.

I agree with what another reader has said on here that the book does leave you wanting more. Although I respect O'Farrell for giving the author the benefit of the doubt to fill in the gaps in the story that she has left, I would also have liked a bit more 'padding out' - especially regarding Esme's incarceration. However, despite this, it was still a wonderful read. I would urge anyone to read it!!
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141 of 144 people found the following review helpful By K. French on 11 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
I have previously read another Maggie O'Farrell, and loved her gentle narrative, so thought "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" would be the perfect holiday read. The book contains a bit of everything, intrigue, love, sadness and even some humour, and tells of the huge betrayal of Esme Lennox by her sister, and the susbsequent consequences. I loved the portrayal of Esme as a quirky, rebellious character fighting against the typical expectations of her family, and enjoyed hearing the story from several different angels, that of Esme herself, her sister, and her newly found relative. The whole tale builds up to a climatic finale, which left a slightly disturbing flavour, but is befitting and not out of line with the rest of the book. Overall, a highly recommended read.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By LittleReader VINE VOICE on 3 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a huge fan of Maggie O Farrell and have yet to read anything of hers without utterly enjoying it - this story was no exception. I devoured it in two short sittings. Her writing is completely human, absorbing and emotional. This is a story of a wasted life, through ignorance and intolerance. I felt helpless by the end of it and certain paragraphs moved me to tears and will haunt me for a long time.

My only criticism, borne of a selfish need, is that it didn't go on long enough for me - there wasn't enough bulking out of the characters. Kitty's disjointed ramblings gave the most away but I would have liked to have heard more from Esme. More about their family life. More about her incarceration. More about her healing. More about Iris fitting together the pieces of the puzzle. Just more more more! But I suppose thats the mark of an excellent book, is it not...?
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By M. L. Hindmarch on 26 Aug 2007
Format: Paperback
A fine, mature, and psychologically perceptive novel which has been elegantly and skilfully crafted.
O' Farrell has woven a compelling plot with a strong sense of time (from the 1930s to the present) and place (India & Edinburgh), each anchored by rich sensory detail.Thorough research and observation clearly underpin this novel but they are neither heavy-handed nor self-conscious. Her characterisation seemed to me to be effective and persuasive.
Esme - the protagonist's previously unknown elderly relative upon whose discovery, after she had been held for sixty years in a lunatic asylum, the plot hangs - illuminates a significant theme of the novel (p 134)when she decides that "[w]e are all ... 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." But, as her life demonstrates dramatically, that is at the beginning and we go on to be shaped by our actions, and the social mores against which they are evaluated.
This is a 'good read' with an ending which, although finally unsurprising, presents itself as a possibility (unwelcome though just)sufficently late in the tale's unfolding to shock. Its impact unsettled me for some time after I had, reluctantly, finished the book.
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Sampson on 7 Feb 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have to start this review with a warning: if you pick up this book you won't be able to put it down until you've finished. Nothing else will get done - you won't be able to answer the phone, cook a meal, pick up your emails, anything. You'll just have to sit there, stuck to your chair, and keep on reading.

This is the story of a woman put into an asylum for doing nothing more than trying on some of her mother's clothes and refusing to cut her hair. Not the behaviour of an insane person but the normal things a teenager does. But Esme has been born into a repressive, pre-Second-Worl-War society and so any slight rebellion is seen as a sign of an unsound mind.

It is a brilliant, evocative, moving book. I cried about four times, especially towards the end. It moves back and forth from the 1930s to the present-day Edinburgh. Esme's niece, Iris, is called to the asylum to meet the great-aunt she never knew she had. At first she's reluctant to have anything to do with her but then she gets caught up in the mystery that is Esme Lennox...

I can't find the words to recommend this book enough. BUY IT. IT'S GREAT!
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