“She speaks to no one, these days. She wants to concentrate, she doesn’t like to muddy things with the distraction of speech.”
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: February 26th, 2013.
Rate: 3.5 ⭐⭐⭐
Maggie O’Farrell takes readers on a journey to the darker places of the human heart, where desires struggle with the imposition of social mores. This haunting story explores the seedy past of Victorian asylums, the oppression of family secrets, and the way truth can change everything.
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 over sixty 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 Esme’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?
Maggie O’Farrell’s intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth will haunt readers long past its final page.
There’s always this uncertainty you have when you read a new author, and a book you’ve never heard of before. As much as there is uncertainty, there’s also a little (a lot) excitement. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox had me from the first page. The book went between the past and the present, with stream of consciousness a lot and I found that I liked that a lot. It made it an interesting read.
The story is centered around family dynamics and sibling rivalry and goes to show the lasting impact it has on a person. I found it sad & emotional. What I didn’t like was that halfway in the story it started dragging & I felt that there were too many filler chapters.
That aside, the characters are real and visible, and the story gives you a different perspective on what people see as their truth. I loved the writing and the the book in general.
“We 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.”
If you read my 2017 Best Reads you know The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox met the cut and I highly recommend.
Have you read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox or any Maggie O’Farrell’s books? If yes how did you find it?