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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Average Rating 3.5
( 387 )
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5 Star

(120)

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(130)

3 Star

(74)

2 Star

(39)

1 Star

(24)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

AMAZING and unique story

I read for pure entertainment...show me a good story. I am a pretty tough critic and I am often disappointed by 'recommended' books. However, this book was absolutely amazing. I was hooked from the very first chapter. Although the book is sad at times the overall fe...
I read for pure entertainment...show me a good story. I am a pretty tough critic and I am often disappointed by 'recommended' books. However, this book was absolutely amazing. I was hooked from the very first chapter. Although the book is sad at times the overall feeling when reading it is not sad, simply enjoyable. I wish the ending would have had a bit more resolution however. I will definitely try more titles by this author.

posted by Anonymous on April 30, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

One of the most annoying, incomprehensible books I've ever read!

The plot would have been good and the story interesting (although not highly original) if the writing style weren't so hideously incomprehensible! There are three main female characters. Half the time I couldn't remotely figure out which character was 'speaking,' what y...
The plot would have been good and the story interesting (although not highly original) if the writing style weren't so hideously incomprehensible! There are three main female characters. Half the time I couldn't remotely figure out which character was 'speaking,' what year it was, or what was actually going on! It was the most annoying book I've read in a long, long time. The final insult was the end of the book. It just ended abruptly. Because it was so confusing, the reader never knows what happened at the end of the book. One can definitely speculate, but what's the point of that? It was so frustrating I almost slung my e-reader at the wall when it was finished. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a relaxing, interesting, consuming read. The first two chapters were well written and certainly made me look forward to reading the rest of the book. Once the three main characters were introduced fully, the writing took on its ridiculous back and forth between the three characters (although it wasn't interaction between the characters) with no indication which was 'speaking,' whose brain you were in or even what they were thinking/talking about; it was just random thoughts. One of the most aggravating parts about this book is that I believe this author has potential as a good writer and yet it was all wasted on a stream of consciousness from three women whom you couldn't identify when their internal dialogues were being switched back and forth rapidly from one paragraph to the next. EXTREMELY ANNOYING!!!! I think this would be an extremely frustrating book club subject. Fortunately, it wasn't a long book. I might try another book by this author, but I would be very skeptical. If a second book was like this one in writing style, I definitely wouldn't give her a third chance.

posted by bug167 on April 30, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008

    AMAZING and unique story

    I read for pure entertainment...show me a good story. I am a pretty tough critic and I am often disappointed by 'recommended' books. However, this book was absolutely amazing. I was hooked from the very first chapter. Although the book is sad at times the overall feeling when reading it is not sad, simply enjoyable. I wish the ending would have had a bit more resolution however. I will definitely try more titles by this author.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2011

    One of the most annoying, incomprehensible books I've ever read!

    The plot would have been good and the story interesting (although not highly original) if the writing style weren't so hideously incomprehensible! There are three main female characters. Half the time I couldn't remotely figure out which character was 'speaking,' what year it was, or what was actually going on! It was the most annoying book I've read in a long, long time. The final insult was the end of the book. It just ended abruptly. Because it was so confusing, the reader never knows what happened at the end of the book. One can definitely speculate, but what's the point of that? It was so frustrating I almost slung my e-reader at the wall when it was finished. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a relaxing, interesting, consuming read. The first two chapters were well written and certainly made me look forward to reading the rest of the book. Once the three main characters were introduced fully, the writing took on its ridiculous back and forth between the three characters (although it wasn't interaction between the characters) with no indication which was 'speaking,' whose brain you were in or even what they were thinking/talking about; it was just random thoughts. One of the most aggravating parts about this book is that I believe this author has potential as a good writer and yet it was all wasted on a stream of consciousness from three women whom you couldn't identify when their internal dialogues were being switched back and forth rapidly from one paragraph to the next. EXTREMELY ANNOYING!!!! I think this would be an extremely frustrating book club subject. Fortunately, it wasn't a long book. I might try another book by this author, but I would be very skeptical. If a second book was like this one in writing style, I definitely wouldn't give her a third chance.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Makes the reader realize just how fortunate he or she is!

    A lifetime of betrayal, terrible secrets and disregarded women's rights are revealed in this haunting, provocative novel. Esme Lennox is a spirited girl who refuses to conform to the 1930's social pattern and as a result is locked up by her family in a mental institution. Sixty years later, her great niece, Iris, receives a phone call to tell her that the asylum is closing and she needs to take responsibility for her grandmother's sister.whom she had never heard of. This is one of those books that makes you realize just how fortunate you are!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Incredibily Great

    This book was so engaging, the story so entralling you are grabbed from the first sentence. I read it in nearly a day and had the hardest time putting it down! The three characters build the suspense and you cannot help but be drawn into the agony that each feels in their situation.

    I loved this book so much that I am going to read the rest of O'Farrell's work!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    magnificent, heartbreaking, and full of gorgeous prose

    Esme Lennox is not a giddy book. It won't fill you with warm and fuzzy feelings or leave you on a superficially high note or surround you with cotton candy happy thoughts. Instead, it is a magnificent, heartbreaking glimpse into the lives of two women who have never met but have everything in the world in common, except that one of them was lucky enough to be born in thirty years later. O'Farrell is a glorious writer who masterfully tells the story from three different perspectives. And every inch of it - from dusty colonial India to the grim asylum to the streets of modern Edinburgh - rings terribly true to life. This book at first will leave you wondering and hoping and arguing ... but after all that, you'll realize that it didn't really leave you at all.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2008

    Amazing book

    I can't say enough good things about this book. I rarely read fiction (I usually stick with travelogues) but this one caught my eye and I couldn't put it down. An incredibly engrossing story, beautifully written, and it sticks with you long after you finish the book. A must read!!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2008

    Left me wanting more!

    What a great book. Took me some time to get into it, but I got very involved with the characters. I wanted more and was sorry when it was all too soon, finished... I am really hoping for more of the story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    Wanted to Love it

    After reading all your reviews, I was so excited to read this book. But I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed. If I'd had no expectations of the book I might have liked it more. But I found it too jumpy. While reading what was apparently journal entries by one of the book's characters, I wondered where they came from? Were we the only ones 'the readers' privy to the journal's information? I would liked to have seen more relationship development between Esme and Iris. Too, I'm still confused about the relationship between Alex and Iris. Why was it significant that Kitty 'caught' them? And for the life of me, I still don't know what happened at the very end of the book. I don't want to say much because I don't want to spoil it. But I re-read the last 3 or 4 pages several times and couldn't believe it ended so abruptly where it was. I just felt like there was a LOT more story that needed to be told. I almost wish one of you would read this and email me to help me figure it out. I read quite a lot yet this book left me confused. I'm not saying it didn't have it's high points. I actually enjoyed 75% of the book. I just felt like structurally, it could have been more fluent and there were some loose ends that needed to be tied up. It's short, so it's worth a read. I'd like to know what other's think.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Forgotten but not gone

    Ms O'Farrell had me within the first few pages. I hated putting this book down each night. Although it was sad, it was so touching and I found myself trying to help Esme in my own mind. It tore at my heart the story of her past and the aloneness she felt. She was different from those immediately around her as she wanted more from life than what was expected of her and tried to break through the boundries set for her. This set her apart from others including her family. When atrocity occurred at a party, which she didn't understand but that horrified her, she had no one that she felt she could turn to. As other times, she found it necessary to bury herself away, as they pushed her away.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2009

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a warm and unusual look at the meaning of family.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The main character is foot loose and fancy free with a casual romantic relationship. Suddenly she learns of a family member long hidden away. If you have any knowledge of or interest in mental illness you will find this interesting as the main character develops compassion she didn't know she had. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from Maggie O'Farrell.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    Loved it

    Read it in one day - easy to follow, but still had interesting twists and turns. Definitely recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Tough read but stay with it.

    I agree with other reviewers that the style of writing that this author uses is difficult to read. It is difficult sometimes to know who

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Well done, gripping story

    Character development is wonderfully written, the story told in good literary fashion- i will read more of this authors work

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" is a provocative exploration of the role of women in British Victorian society.

    The story of Esme, her sister and her young relative, depicts the inequality of women throughout the beginning of the 20th century.
    Told in many voices, the story is heartbreaking, sorrowful and full of injustice. It is a great bookclub read as it covers many contraversial subjects.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting story line

    I wished there was a little more detail, I felt like the ending was a little rushed. But I really enjoyed it. The author's writing style was very unique, and took me a couple of chapters to get the flow of things, but once I got it, I really enjoyed the story. I can't wait to read the author's other works.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Sad Tale

    A sad tale of what can sometimes happen (then and now) if you march to the beat of your own drum. The thing I didn't care for in this book was the abrupt and disjointed thoughts by Kitty (maybe other characters too but I can't remember and I don't want to go back and reread it) throughout the story (I think that begins on about page 72 or so). I found the style of it distracting. Esme's plight is heartbreaking and even though her final act is her own personal justice, it didn't leave me cheering for her or Iris.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    Review

    I was very surprised by this book. Usually it's not my style, I'm very much into anything scifi or fantasy, however something about this book peaked my interested. In the beginning I was a little concerned but I made myself give the book a chance and I was pleasantly surprised. I do understand where some people are coming from with the short ending, but I think by that point you've developed an understanding of the characters that I dont mind that it wasn't spelled out word for word what happened. Overall I think it's a really good book to read once just because it is so interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    Loved It!!

    This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Couldn't put it down. If anyone doesn't think women's rights have came a long way, read this book. These things really happened!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    Outstanding!

    This book is absolutely outstanding! I went to my local Barnes and Noble store one night and found it in the clearance section. The cover caught my eye and I read the synopsis. It sounded alright to me so I bought it. I read it in two nights! I couldn't put it down! It has so much depth and meaning. I recommend it entirely!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    Wow!!

    I truly connected with this book. I unlike others did not see the twist of plot and the surprise ending. I found the scattered jumping for character to character very interesting and that was what really had me not wanting to put it down. Cliff hanger ending? Not really, we all know what happened to Esme deep down, we just can't imagine her doing something to go back!!! Read and be angry, sad, and justified. The way women 'were' treated! I had no idea, not really.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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