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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by [O'Farrell, Maggie]
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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 386 customer reviews

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Length: 290 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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

Barbara Trapido, Independent

'One of our most interesting and popular young novelists... richly imaginative... superb'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 761 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (12 Nov. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036AS062
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 386 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,842 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Having bought my copy at Christmas, I saved it up until I knew I'd have time to read it in two or three sittings. I was right to do so - it gripped until the end.

Unlike some other reviewers, I actually liked all of the characterisation because I felt there were parallels being drawn between the restricted, class strangled thirties and today. Is Iris any more free than Esme sixty years ago? She can make decisions for herself and run her own business, but she still ends up in a relationship with a married man who is a liar, and she still denies the love she truly feels. Esme and Kitty, however, are forced into a way of life that you either embraced (Kitty) or railed against (Esme). Kitty, for all her compliance, ends up unhappy and not with the man she wants. Esme ends up in an institution because she's free-spirited.

The major theme is a serious one and one that is not visited too often. I know myself of two women who were sent to a local asylum in the late 1920s because they suffered post-natal depression and epilepsy respectively. Nowadays these women would be on medication, not shut away at the whim of a third party whose life is easier without them. The two women I'm talking about were on the same ward until they died and never knew that one's son had married the other one's daughter.

So it did happen, it's not unthinkable, and I believe that Maggie O'Farrell has drawn, with skill and grace, a tale of loss that many women and families can relate to.
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