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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox


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  • 9 years later...

This is one of the best novels that I have read in a while. The story tells of two sisters, born in India, who return as children to the family home in Edinburgh during the early part of the twentieth century. Esme, the younger sister has already had a traumatic experience with the death of her baby brother when her parents and older sister, Kitty, were away from home and on their arrival in Edinburgh she proves to be a difficult and wayward child. Following a further frightening experience with a boy at age 16 her parents, along with a family doctor, have her committed to a mental institution where she remains for over sixty one years. When the institution is being closed down it falls to her great niece, Iris, who knew nothing of Esme's existence, to support her as somewhere is found for her to stay. Meanwhile sister Kitty is in an Edinburgh care home suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

As the story develops the reader is left to work out where the various clues are leading and much is left to the reader's own imagination. Maggie O'Farrell's terse style of writing lends itself to the stream of consciousness approach that she gives to the narrative. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and well-written novel but with a somewhat disturbing theme.

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