30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Not for Vanishing!,
This review is from: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (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.