Newest Review: ... her. Characters Esme is in a home which is shutting down and her next of kin is listed as Iris. The home contact Iris to ask her what she... more
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell
Member Name: Wee_Jackie_163
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell
Advantages: Gripping story & wonderfully written...
Disadvantages: None for me!
* SYNOPSIS OF THE BOOK *
Iris is a young woman who receives notification out of the blue that her great-aunt, a lady called Esme Lennox, is about to be released from a Psychiatric Unit, where she has been imprisoned against her will since her childhood. As Iris is her next of kin, the responsibility for Esme's welfare and care sits with her.
"Iris has never even heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris's questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family's history....?"
* MY OPINION *
I really enjoyed this book and found it quite an enchanting read. I particularly liked the way the book was written between the past and the present, so it felt like I was learning a little about such an interesting era in the past (the 1930s) which I found quite intriguing. I also thought that the author intertwined both these timelines perfectly, without ever baffling or confusing the reader. The story is written in such a way that the audience is entirely captivated by the story itself, rather than being aware of any sort of 'jolt' back to the present day or being thrust into the depths of the past. The time differences are stark and obvious to the reader, but our transportation back and forth between them is extremely subtle and completely fascinating.
The characters in the book are all quite interesting in their own way, and I enjoyed 'getting to know them' as it were. I felt a pang of sympathy towards Esme which I felt was recurring again and again as I got further into the book whilst I was learning more about her past and in particular her childhood. I also felt real sympathy for Esme when I was reading the parts of the book that reflected on her time living in the asylum, and I thought that the author purposefully used great imagery and highly descriptive prose during these sections of the book to convey these feelings in the reader. This method worked beautifully.
I felt that all of the characters in the book were given enough 'depth' to them to make them believable - and as likeable as they needed to be - and I didn't feel that any of the main characters were lacking anything at all. I did think that perhaps the author left one aspect of Iris's relationships unanswered at the end of the book, but I do think that perhaps this was intentional, and the author intends the reader to 'fill in the gaps' as it were.
I have heard very mixed reports about this book, but most people I know who have read it have really enjoyed it. Some of the criticism I have come across is in relation to the ending of the book, and I believe that it has disappointed some readers for being 'too abrupt'. I personally DID find the ending of the book to be quite abrupt, but I didn't find that this was in any way negative, or at all disappointing. My personal opinion is that the author wanted to build a climatic ending and thus deliver it to the reader in quite a shocking way, and boy, did she pull it off. It's been quite a long time since I've read a book that has left me as surprised - or shocked - as this one did, and it was a very welcome discovery! I found that the impact of the ending, and the shocking events that we have learned leading up to it, accumulated fully and resulted in a firework-ending that is a very rare gem in my opinion. I think the author has shown incredible skill in her ability to compose such a clever story with such a high-impact ending, and to write in this way and have it deliver such an impact on the reader is really quite incredible to my mind, and praise is due indeed for the author's immense skill at delivering all of this within such an intriguing story to boot.
There is quite an eerie tone evident throughout the book, although I can't quite put my finger on it exactly. Perhaps it is because the ghosts of Esme's past are so often revisited in the present time, and she herself has had to face so many demons in her lifetime? Either way, it gave a real atmospheric edge to the book that worked well with the plot and characters overall, and it really provided a very interesting backdrop throughout the book.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I found it was a really fascinating read that had me hooked from the first page. I really struggled to put the book down, such was the captivating story and the mystery involved in Esme's past and subsequent disappearance. The last couple of chapters in the book were the icing on the cake, and the explosive ending worked wonderfully with the rest of the book. I found that the story has stayed with me for some time after reading it, which is a rare occurrence for me personally and I would wholeheartedly recommend it as a result.
Summary: A book that I would thoroughly recommend!