The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

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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 knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s ...

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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

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Overview

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 knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. 

Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

A gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will haunt you long past its final page.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A Selection of Barnes & Noble Recommends
"Let us begin with two girls at a dance," writes Maggie O'Farrell, and the reader is immediately pulled into a journey across continents, generations, and the hidden landscapes of the heart. The story she tells encompasses the confused present of a contemporary young woman, Iris Lockhart; the unsuspected past of Iris's grandmother, Kitty, adrift in the forgetfulness of Alzheimer's; and the long-concealed life of Kitty's sister Esme, who has spent a lifetime institutionalized for refusing to accept the conventions of 1930s Edinburgh society.

At the novel's opening, Iris's complicated life demands all her attention: Her vintage clothing shop barely turns a profit, she's having an affair with a married man, and she's never fully reconciled her intense attraction to her step-brother. But all this is pushed aside when Esme's existence is revealed to her, and she discovers that a great-aunt she never knew has been locked away for 60 years, a patient in a mental hospital that's preparing to close its doors for good. After initially refusing to do so, Iris decides to care for Esme and brings the elderly stranger into her home. As the two women become acquainted, Esme's memories -- the childhood she and Kitty shared in India, the death of their young brother, the family's migration to Scotland, and Esme's youthful rebellion against the mores of her class -- transform Iris's sense of her family's past, opening a vault of secrets that will change the character of everything she thought she knew. With seamless narrative artistry, O'Farrell weaves an enthralling tale -- and builds page-turning suspense -- while shifting between Iris's and Esme's points of view, illuminating both with Kitty's fractured but vivid recollections. The taut fabric of the novel's telling enmeshes the reader in a tangled web of jealousy, deception, and betrayal that is shocking, heartbreaking, and unforgettable. Alive with the energy of trapped desires, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a riveting work of literary imagination.

About the Author
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is Maggie O'Farrell's fourth novel. Her debut, After You'd Gone, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, won a 2001 Betty Trask Award from Britain's Society of Authors, which has also honored O'Farrell's work with its Somerset Maugham Award. Prior to her work as a novelist, she held positions as a teacher and an arts administrator; she also worked as a journalist, both in Hong Kong and as the Deputy Literary Editor of London's The Independent on Sunday.

Of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, O'Farrell says, "It is a novel I've wanted to write for a long time. I first had the idea -- of a woman who is incarcerated in an asylum for a lifetime -- 15 years ago…. The idea never went away, and I gradually amassed more and more stories and examples of girls who had been committed in the early 20th century for little more than being disobedient or recalcitrant." As she wrestled with the imagining of Esme's stolen life, O'Farrell paid weekly visits to women who had been institutionalized for decades for such "transgressions" as trying to elope or refusing to marry. In an especially poignant exchange, one of them asked O'Farrell if she had been allowed to keep the baby she had recently given birth to.

Maggie O'Farrell was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and grew up in Wales and Scotland. She now lives with her family in Edinburgh.

Praise for The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

From Our Booksellers
Full of emotion and mystery, this novel took off at warp speed and never let up 'til the very end.
--Margie Turkett, Annapolis, MD

Heartbreaking. A riveting tale of a stolen life.
--Lynn Oris, St. Peters, MO

A compelling read about family secrets and shortcomings. O'Farrell's unfolding tale of individuality and betrayal in the face of social expectations is astounding.
--Sandra Guerfi, White Plains, NY

Immediately gripping and mysterious, I devoured it.
--Rosey McArdell, Apple Valley, MN

A haunting novel. I read it in one sitting! The ending was a shocker, and I have to admit, rather gratifying.
--Angel Ramandt, Baltimore, MD

From Writers and Reviews
I found this actually unputdownable, written with charge and energy and a kind of compelling drive, a clarity and a gripping dramatic insidiousness reminiscent of classic writers like Rebecca West and Daphne du Maurier.
--Ali Smith, author of The Accidental

The novel is brilliant in every way…. Maggie O'Farrell has written a taut, fragile mystery of relationships and deception.
--Literary Review

Thoughtful, warm, elegantly written and totally shocking…a fantastic read, a real page-turner.
--Daily Express

This haunting and extraordinarily engrossing novel -- part gothic mystery, part tangled family drama -- reminded me why I love reading in the first place….
--Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel
author of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - Audrey Niffenegger
"The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a strange, sad, and a marvelously well-written novel. I would like to think that families only behave this way in books, but unfortunately betrayal, jealousy, and secrets are all too common in real life. It was a terrific book, I will be thinking about it for a long time."
author of THE DOGS OF BABEL - Carolyn Parkhurst
"This haunting and extraordinarily engrossing novel—part gothic mystery, part tangled family drama—reminded me why I love reading in the first place: it's because a well-written book has the power to carry us away to a place we've never been but always suspected it was there. I'm grateful to Maggie O'Farrell for revealing this story to the world of readers."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX
 
"I found this actually unputdownable, written with charge and energy and a kind of compelling drive, a clarity and a gripping dramatic insidiousness reminiscent of classic writers like Rebecca West and Daphne du Maurier."—Ali Smith

"Almost ridiculously pleasurable . . . shocking, heartbreaking, and fascinating."—The Times (London)

Booklist
"O'Farrell's fourth novel brilliantly illustrates her talent for gradually revealing her characters' inner lives by jumping back and forth in time and juxtaposing different narrative points of view.... A gripping read with superbly crafted scenes that will blaze in the reader's memory long after the novel is returned to the shelf."
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 novel is a mystery you want to solve until you start to suspect the truth, and then you read on in a panic, horrified that you may be right.
—The Washington Post
Julia Scheeres
O'Farrell is a very visual writer, creating dead-on images like the "arched pink rafters" of a dog's mouth and a chandelier's "points of light kaleidoscoping" above a dance floor. This talent serves her well at the novel's startling and darkly rewarding finale.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

O'Farrell (After You'd Gone) delivers an intricate, eloquent novel of family malice, longings and betrayal. Slim, stylish Iris Lockhart runs a dress shop in contemporary Edinburgh when she's not flirting with her stepbrother Alex or rendezvousing with her married attorney lover, Luke. Esme Lennox, meanwhile, is ready to be discharged from the soon-to-be-closed psychiatric hospital where she's been a patient (read: virtual prisoner) for 61 years. Iris becomes aware of Esme's existence when she's informed, to her disbelief, that she has been granted power of attorney over Esme by Kitty Lockhart, Iris's Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother. It turns out Kitty and Esme are sisters, but Kitty kept quiet about Esme after she was hospitalized at age 16. Layer upon layer of Lockhart family secrets are laid bare-the truth behind Esme's institutionalization, why her existence was kept a secret, and a twist involving Iris's parents-as Iris mulls over what to do with her new charge, and Esme and Kitty reconnect. O'Farrell maintains a high level of tension throughout, and the conclusion is devastating. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus
"A moving human drama."
Library Journal

Iris Lockhart leads a solitary if spicy life, managing her clothing shop in Edinburgh and dallying with her married lover. But when Iris learns that she has a great-aunt Esme waiting to be released from Cauldstone Hospital, where she has been locked away for 60 years, it is as if a bomb has dropped. The hospital is closing, and someone must collect Esme, who upon inspection seems frail, quiet, and a little quirky but hardly mentally ill. As far as Iris knew, her grandmother Kitty had no siblings; Kitty is still alive but suffering from Alzheimer's. The secret of Esme's existence is only the first of many family secrets revealed in a tale told through shifting viewpoints, among them Kitty's fragmented recollections. A sudden ending to this finely wrought family exposé may leave some readers in the lurch, but the psychological suspense along the way should satisfy those looking for both strong plot and characterization. O'Farrell's (After You'd Gone) fourth novel is recommended for literary fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/1/07.]
—Keddy Ann Outlaw

Kirkus Reviews
When the willfully unattached Iris Lockhart receives a call about a great aunt she never met, her loner lifestyle gets woven into a much larger family drama. Iris may harbor a secret forbidden passion, but in her real-life affairs she prefers a detached approach. Therefore, when a call comes from the soon-to-close Cauldstone Hospital, asking what she would like to do with an elderly relative she didn't know existed, she is faced with more intimacy than she's comfortable with. Her great-aunt Esme, mistakenly called "Euphemia" by the staff, has been hospitalized for more than 60 years for various vague psychiatric disorders, at one point it seems for simply not wanting her hair to be cut. After Iris tries to place her, and recoils from the horrors of the recommended halfway house, she takes her into her own flat, carved out of the Scottish family's original grand home, on a trial basis. Over the course of one long weekend, that trial reveals truths about why Esme was hospitalized and why Iris never heard of her, and also delves into Iris's fear of intimacy as her married lover, Luke, teeters on the edge of leaving his wife. Relying on a complex structure that recalls O'Farrell's earlier work (My Lover's Lover, 2003, etc.), most of the book's present action is focused on Iris's day-to-day functioning. But this contemporary action is merely the finale of a drama that's been going on since Esme's youth in India. That story unfolds primarily through a series of inner monologues. Esme enjoys rediscovering some memories but avoids others, while her sister Kitty, now institutionalized with Alzheimer's, runs through old mistakes and excuses that still haunt her in her dementia. At times, thesecompeting voices, each with a different take on exactly what happened, can be confusing, but by the novel's surprising ending, each has become clear. Despite occasional opacity, this slow-building, impressionistic work amply rewards dedicated readers with a moving human drama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151014118
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/24/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Maggie O'Farrell

MAGGIE O'FARRELL is the author of four previous novels, including the acclaimed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which was a B&N Recommends Pick, and After You’d Gone. Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, O'Farrell grew up in Wales and Scotland. She has two children.

Biography

Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, and raised in Wales and Scotland, Maggie O'Farrell worked as a journalist in Hong Kong and as an editor at The Independent on Sunday before bursting on the literary scene in 2000 with her acclaimed first novel, After You'd Gone.

An intricate tale that begins at the end and circles inward to reveal the mystery at its heart, After You'd Gone gave readers their first tantalizing taste of qualities that have since become hallmarks of O'Farrell's fiction -- spare, elegant prose; complex characters with intense, sometimes unexpected connections; and a multi-layered narrative that moves back and forth in time and unfolds from several perspectives. The book was reviewed rapturously and went on to win the Betty Trask Award -- a prestigious U.K. prize for first novels given to Commonwealth writers under the age of 35.

Since her extraordinary debut, O'Farrell's fiction has earned more accolades. Her third novel, The Distance Between Us received the 2005 Somerset Maugham Award; and in 2007, O'Farrell achieved international bestsellerdom with The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, a tangled family drama selected for the Barnes & Noble Recommends program.

Praise for the author's writing is lavish. In its review of Vanishing Act..., The New York Times declared, "O'Farrell performs a traditional, old-fashioned storytelling striptease, seductively unveiling layer after layer of revelatory secrets." And The Independent summed up her talents with these words: "Her gift for storytelling is wrapped in gold paper and tied with 15 velvet bows. Give her any synopsis you like and she would probably make it work." In May, 2007, O'Farrell was selected by the British bookstore chain Waterstone's as one of 25 emergent authors predicted to produce the most impressive body of work over the next quarter century.

Good To Know

    Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Maggie:

    "I was once a cycle courier in Hong Kong but was sacked after three days."

    "I have two cats and half a dog (my sister's -- she allows me to share)."

    "I live in what must be one of the coldest houses in Scotland!"

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Read an Excerpt

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 her, watching the dance unfold: the circling couples, the clasped hands, the drumming shoes, the whirling skirts, the bounce of the floor. It is the last hour of the year and the windows behind them are blank with night. The seated girl is dressed in something pale, Esme forgets what, the other in a dark red frock that doesn’t suit her. She has lost her gloves. It begins here.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps it begins earlier, before the party, before they dressed in their new finery, before the candles were lit, before the sand was sprinkled on the boards, before the year whose end they are celebrating began. Who knows?

Either way it ends at a grille covering a window with each square exactly two thumbnails wide.

If Esme cares to gaze into the distance – that is to say, at what lies beyond the metal grille – she finds that, after a while, something happens to the focusing mechanism of her eyes. The squares of the grille will blur and, if she concentrates long enough, vanish. There is always a moment before her body reasserts itself, readjusting her eyes to the proper reality of the world, when it is just her and the trees, the road, the beyond. Nothing in between.

The squares at the bottom are worn free of paint and you can see the different layers of colour inside each other, like rings in a tree. Esme is taller than most so can reach the part where the paint is new and thick as tar.

Behind her, a woman makes tea for her dead husband. Is he dead? Or just run off? Esme doesn’t recall. Another woman is searching for water to pour on flowers that perished long ago in a seaside town not far from here. It is always the meaningless tasks that endure: the washing, the cooking, the clearing, the cleaning. Never anything majestic or significant, just the tiny rituals that hold together the seams of human life. The girl obsessed with cigarettes has had two warnings already and everyone is thinking she is about to get a third. And Esme is thinking, where does it begin – is it there, is it here, at the dance, in India, before?

She speaks to no one, these days. She wants to concentrate, she doesn’t like to muddy things with the distraction of speech. There is a zoetrope inside her head and she doesn’t like to be caught out when it stops.

Whir, whir. Stop.

In India, then. The garden. Herself aged about four, standing on the back step.

Above her, mimosa trees are shaking their heads at her, powdering the lawn with yellow dust. If she walked across it, she’d leave a trail behind. She wants something. She wants something but she doesn’t know what. It’s like an itch she can’t reach to scratch. A drink? Her ayah? A sliver of mango? She rubs at an insect bite on her arm and pokes at the yellow dust with her bare toe. In the distance somewhere she can hear her sister’s skipping-rope hitting the ground and the short shuffle of feet in between. Slap shunt slap shunt slap shunt.

She turns her head, listening for other noises. The brrrcloop-brrr of a bird in the mimosa branches, a hoe in the garden soil – scritch, scritch – and, somewhere, her mother’s voice. She can’t make out the words but she knows it’s her mother talking.

Esme jumps off the step, so that both feet land together, and runs round the side of the bungalow. Beside the lily pond, her mother is bending over the garden table, pouring tea into a cup, her father beside her in a hammock. The edges of their white clothes shimmer in the heat. Esme narrows her eyes until her parents blur into two hazy shapes, her mother a triangle and her father a line.

She counts as she walks over the lawn, giving a short hop every tenth step.

‘Oh.’ Her mother looks up. ‘Aren’t you having your nap?’

‘I woke up.’ Esme balances on one leg, like the birds that come to the pond at night.

‘Where’s your ayah? Where’s Jamila?’

‘I don’t know. May I have some tea?’

Her mother hesitates, unfolding a napkin across her knee.

‘Darling, I rather think—’

‘Give her some, if she wants it.’ Her father says this without opening his eyes.

Her mother pours tea into a saucer and holds it out. Esme ducks under her outstretched hand and clambers on to her lap. She feels the scratch of lace, the heat of a body underneath white cotton. ‘You were a triangle and Father was a line.’

Her mother shifts in the seat. ‘I beg your pardon?’

‘I said, you were a triangle—’

‘Mmm.’ Her mother’s hands grip Esme’s arms. ‘It’s really too hot for cuddles today.’ Esme is set down on the grass again. ‘Why not go and find Kitty? See what she’s up to.’

‘She’s skipping.’

‘Couldn’t you join in?’

‘No.’ Esme reaches out and touches the frosted icing on a bun. ‘She’s too—’

‘Esme,’ her mother lifts her wrist clear of the table, ‘a lady waits to be offered.’

‘I just wanted to see what it felt like.’

‘Well, please don’t.’ Her mother leans back in the chair and shuts her eyes.

Esme watches her for a moment. Is she asleep? A blue vein pulses in her neck and her eyes move under the lids. Tiny globes of water, no bigger than pinheads, are pushing out from the skin above her lip. Where her shoe straps end and skin begins, her mother’s feet bloom red marks. Her stomach is distended, pushed out with another baby. Esme has felt it, wriggling like a caught fish. Jamila says she thinks this one is lucky, that this one will live.

Esme looks up at the sky, at the flies circling the lily flowers on the pond, at the way her father’s clothes protrude from the underside of the hammock in diamonds of loose cloth. In the distance, she can still hear Kitty’s skipping-rope, the scritch, scritch of the hoe – or is it a different one? Then she hears the drone of an insect. She turns her head to see it but it’s gone, behind her, to the left of her. She turns again but it’s closer, the buzz louder, and she feels the catch of its feet in her hair.

Esme springs up, shaking and shaking her head but the buzzing is louder still and suddenly she feels the crawling flutter of wings on her ear. She shrieks, flailing at her head with her hands but the buzzing is deafening now, blocking out all other sounds, and she feels the insect edging inside the narrow passage of her ear – and what will happen, will it eat through her eardrum and into her brain and will she be deaf like the girl in Kitty’s book? Or will she die? Or will it live in her head and she will have this noise inside her for ever?

She lets out another piercing shriek, still shaking her hair, staggering about the lawn, and the shriek turns to sobs and just as the buzzing starts to lift and the insect backs out of her ear, she hears her father saying, ‘What is the matter with the child?’ and her mother calling across the lawn for Jamila.

Could this be her earliest memory? It might be. A beginning of sorts – the only one she remembers.

Or it might be the time Jamila painted a lacework of henna across her palm. She saw her lifeline, her heartline interrupted by a new pattern. Or Kitty falling into the pond and having to be fished out and taken into the house in a towel. Playing jacks with the cook’s children outside the garden’s perimeter. Watching the earth around the muscular trunk of the banyan tree boiling with ants. It could just as easily have been these.

Perhaps it was this. A lunch when she was strapped to a chair, the binding tight across her middle. Because, as her mother announced to the room, Esme must learn to behave. Which, Esme knew, meant not getting out of her chair until the meal was finished. She loved the space under the table, you see, they couldn’t keep her from it, the illicit privacy under the cloth. There is something peculiarly touching about people’s feet. Their shoes, worn down in odd places, the idiosyncrasies in lace-tying, blisters, calluses, who crossed their ankles, who crossed their knees, whose stockings had holes, who wore mismatched socks, who sat with a hand in whose lap – she knew it all. She would slip from her chair, lithe as a cat, and they couldn’t reach to hook her out.

The binding is a scarf that belongs to her mother. It has a pattern Esme likes: repeating swirls in purple, red and blue. Paisley, her mother says it is called, which Esme knows is a place in Scotland.

Copyright © 2006 Maggie O’Farrell

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Reading Group Guide

Questions for Discussion
1. Some of the earliest scenes Esme shares with the reader are those from her childhood in India. What do they reveal about Esme, her family, and their place in time and society?
2. Alex and Luke are both married men in love with Iris. Do you think Iris really loves either one of them? Why or why not?
3. O'Farrell's novel is steeped in secrets. As the story of Esme and Kitty unfolds simultaneously with the story of Iris and Alex, O'Farrell offers clues about the true nature of these relationships. How do these two stories relate to each other? How does it affect your feelings about the characters?
4. Why do you think Esme was sent to Cauldstone, and never released to go home? Do you think she is mentally unbalanced? Give examples from the book to support your opinion.
5. Esme is both taken aback and fascinated by many things that Iris shows and tells her. What does Esme find so remarkable about Iris? How are Iris and Esme similar? How are they different?
6. As Iris discovers more about Cauldstone, she discovers some of the more outrageous reasons that women were sent to "mad houses" like it. According to the novel's descriptions of that time period, what do you think drove this trend? Do you think changes have occurred in our view and treatment of women who don't "behave"? Why or why not?
7. O'Farrell creates distinct voices for the three main characters and shifts between their points of view to tell the story. Why do you think the author made this choice? What do the characteristics of these different voices reveal about Iris, Esme, and Kitty? How does this technique affect your reading experience?
8. How will the revelation of Esme and Kitty's secret change Iris's life? Do you think it will alter her relationships with Luke and Alex?
9. What do you make of the ending? What do you imagine will happen to these characters after the last page is turned? Has the author satisfied your interest in these characters?

Further Reading: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; Good Behaviour by Molly Keane; Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 387 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(121)

4 Star

(129)

3 Star

(74)

2 Star

(39)

1 Star

(24)

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See All Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 387 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2008

    A reviewer

    A group of 5 friends and I all read this book and loved it! It is a quick, yet fulfilling read. The ending does leave questions unanswered but it is perfectly fitting for the nature of the story. Sometimes, we don't get all of our questions answered, yet life goes on. This is the story with Esme and her niece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2008

    O'Farrell keeps you jumping

    This book was very intriguing and yet a light and easy read. I found myself drawn chin-deep into the book and the characters until the very end. The big finish was not as surprising as I thought it would be however, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The numerous looping strings of memories and thoughts that mostly comprised this read were an excellent fit for such a story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    Beautiful Story

    I read previous reviews that stated it was hard to follow who was narrating. I don't agree. I found it very easy to establish who was narrating. The author did a great job of establishing a different way of 'thinking' for each character. I loved it. I cried for Esme and even sympathized a bit with Kitty. I kind of guessed at the 'surprise ending' early on, but still enjoyed reading the book when it ws revealed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    Exceptional!

    I felt compelled to write a review for this book. It's one of the best I've read in a long time and one that sticks with you long after you're done. At first, I was unsure about it, but once the story started to move along, I couldn't put it down. Maggie writes in such a way that you think, I know what's going to happen, when in fact, you don't. It's a great read. If you're on the fence about getting it, just do it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2008

    The Greatest Book I've Read In a Long Time...

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a tale a love, deception, and dark family secrets. The way Farewell lays out the story from beginning to end is suspenseful, dramatic, and somewhat a tear jerker. In the beginning in can be confusing on whats going on, but by the time you get to page 20 your deeply engrossed in the novel. This is the type of book that everyone should read, not only for entertainment but also for the great moral of the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    Highly Recommended. Loved this book!

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is the first book I have read by Maggie O'Farrell and I loved it! At first I was a little put off by her writing style and the way she switches back and forth in time from character to character. But once I got the flow of her writing style, I could not put this book down. I found it intriguing, thought provoking and suspenseful. It was like a puzzle in which you had to gather all the different pieces from each of the characters in different stages of their lives before you could see the whole picture. I truly enjoy reading this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    GREAT READ!

    GREAT READ!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Different

    Different, slow starting. Ending was surprise.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I found the writing style very hard to follow, but the plot was

    I found the writing style very hard to follow, but the plot was interesting. I wanted
    to know what happened to the characters, so I stayed with it.


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2014

    jwag1995@outlook.com

    Add me

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2014

    Powerful, evocative, and deeply moving story of how oe sister st

    Powerful, evocative, and deeply moving story of how oe sister steals another sister's life, in a time when spontaneity and authenticity could condem w young woman to psychiatric hospitalization without recourse.  Compelling.  I read it the first time with a sense of urgency.  I know I will reread it several times more, and each time I will find new depth and nuances.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Interesting and engaging.

    Interesting and engaging.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    LOVE

    More books by Maggie O'Farrell please!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Worth the read

    Well written, thought provoking. This would be a good book for a reading group.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Loved it

    Very haunting story. I did not mfind it that difficult to keep up with the different characters. Great read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    uneven read

    Confusing beginning but then it gets much better..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    Nook friends?

    Nookman 16 @ y a h o o c o m

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    It was kicking ass

    It was kicking ass because it had sex in it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2012

    Enjoyab Enjoyable

    A worth while read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 387 Customer Reviews

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