Lisa's Reviews > The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
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's review
Jul 11, 11

Read from July 10 to 11, 2011

The story surrounds two sisters (Kathleen 'Kitty' & Euphemia 'Esme') whom were primarily raised in India. A tragedy takes place (death in family), while living there, and their mother becomes hardened emotionally as a result. Their father becomes extremely passive. The family relocates to Scotland to live with a grandmother. As Esme ages, she begins to display very eccentric and willful behavior which is not deemed acceptable by her family. Esme experiences a traumatic event (rape)and is diagnosed with "hysteria" and confined to a psychiatric hospital (10 minutes from the family home)at the age of 16. She is never given the opportunity to explain her situation (the rape) and her eccentric behavior and stubborness is considered to to be symptoms of probable psychosis. Many events take place, during this time, as Esme is confined in the psychiatric hospital for 61 years. She is virtually ignored by her family even though her stay there was supposed to be "temporary." Esme never had visitors. When "Cauldstone" decides to close it's doors the patients are farmed out to other hospitals and some are eligible for release. This is the case of Esme in that she is deemed suitable for re-entry into society and released to her great-niece.

Iris Lockhart gets a letter and several calls about this "great-aunt" that she never knew existed. She is the sister of her paternal grandmother, Kathleen "Kitty" Lockhart. Iris was told that her grandmother was an only child. It is at this point that all of the details of the family secrets come together. It is a story about sibling rivalry, jealousy and deceit. It is a great read. The ending surprised me. Loved it!
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