Stephanie's Reviews > The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
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's review
Dec 29, 2011

liked it
Recommended to Stephanie by: Krystal Larsen
Read on December 22, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I picked this book up at a discount fair, and enjoyed it enough that I can call it money well spent. While most of what I have to say is redundant if you read any number of the reviews already written, I found the book heartbreaking. This book is the story of a young woman (Iris) who gets a call out of the blue that a great-aunt (Esme Lennox) she didn't know she had is about to be released from a mental institution which is being shut down. She is asked to take responsibility for this long-lost family member, and of course begins to dig into the history of why this relative was locked up and purposefully forgotten 60+ years ago. The family secrets she uncovers may be somewhat predictable, although there were a few surprising turns towards the end.

The tragedy of these women locked up in looney bins in the early part of the century primarily because their family/fathers found them too much trouble to deal with is a terrible thing to consider, and I like the way the author portrayed Esme, who is mostly still of sound mind even after all those years locked up. I also really enjoyed the parts told by the Alzheimer-afflicted Kitty. I felt those were well written. My biggest complaints about the book are also ones oft-repeated in existing reviews. I felt the ending was particularly abrupt, and the lack of resolution was kind of annoying. The subplots regarding Iris's personal life end up going nowhere and therefore don't add much to the novel overall, which is disappointing. Still, overall, a novel definitely worth reading if you happen to pick it up.

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