Read O Estranho Desaparecimento de Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell Online


Este romance conta a história de Esme Lennox, uma mulher que, nos anos de 1930, chega da Índia onde nascera, com os pais e a irmã mais velha Kitty. Sessenta anos mais tarde, Iris Lockart é surpreendida por um telefonema a anunciar-lhe que a sua tia-avó terá de deixar o hospital onde viveu durante três décadas, e o nome que consta no seu processo, como responsável por ela,Este romance conta a história de Esme Lennox, uma mulher que, nos anos de 1930, chega da Índia onde nascera, com os pais e a irmã mais velha Kitty. Sessenta anos mais tarde, Iris Lockart é surpreendida por um telefonema a anunciar-lhe que a sua tia-avó terá de deixar o hospital onde viveu durante três décadas, e o nome que consta no seu processo, como responsável por ela, é justamente o seu. Iris sempre acreditou que Kitty, a sua avó, era filha única. E esse é um facto misterioso e inexplicável. Um romance intenso e complexo, escrito com extrema delicadeza, que combina diferentes vozes narrativas num magnífico thriller psicológico....

Title : O Estranho Desaparecimento de Esme Lennox
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789722345675
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 178 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

O Estranho Desaparecimento de Esme Lennox Reviews

  • Laura
    2019-04-19 13:44

    Man, I love to read. Opening a book by an author you've never read is like having a plane ticket to an unknown destination. You don't know where you're going, or exactly when you'll arrive. You just have to trust the pilot to get you there in one piece, hopefully with a smile on your face. Maggie O'Farrell doesn't disappoint, let me just tell you.I don't think I'd have ever added this book if I paid lots of attention to the title or the cover. Both make me think of a frilly-froo-froo type read about women who love to shop and/or care about fashion. Which is pretty much the UN-me. Quoting now from page one, so this is no spoiler:Let us begin with two girls at a dance. ... Or perhaps not. Perhaps it begins earlier, before the party, before they dressed in their new finery, before the candles were lit, before the sand was sprinkled on the boards, before the year whose end they are celebrating began. Who knows? Either way it ends at a grille covering a window with each square exactly two thumbnails wide.I hope the author or publisher reads this review. For the love of God, please, please release another edition of this book with a new cover: a close-up of that window with an eye pressed to it, peering out. Just an eye. In the corner. And watch the sales skyrocket. The cover of the book I read, which is a girl looking down at her fancy blue dress barely tiptoes around the fringes of what the book is about. You want to draw a reader who will appreciate this book? Change the cover, and boom. In this book, you will float through the minds of several people. Two of them can be quite disjointed in their thoughts. She puts you right there. You will experience everything. This isn't exactly an easy read. It's a fast read, but you can't help but cringe at times as the horribleness begins to unfold. Still, it's hard to put down. You'll skip from past to present, and from one character to the next, without any chapter breaks at all. She simply skips a few lines and presents you with another scene. Loved the audio performance too, by Anne Flosnik.Highly recommended. Let me know what you think of this one. This would be a great book for a group discussion.ETA: Be careful you don't read too many reviews prior to the book. The less you know, the better. I really just wanted to try and convince people to look beyond the horrid cover and title.

  • Anna
    2019-04-13 17:28

    This book just ends. That's it. You have to really use your imagination to understand what happens. The story was good, I just would like it to have ended different. And there were a couple of subplots that did not play out, even though the author could have done something with them.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-04-01 12:43

    Onvan : The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Nevisande : Maggie O'Farrell - ISBN : 755308441 - ISBN13 : 9780755308446 - Dar 277 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006

  • Phrynne
    2019-03-29 18:24

    This is a lovely, lovely book and I am amazed I have not read it before. I did not know what I was missing! It's not an easy book to review because you do need to come to it with no preconceived ideas about the content. Enough to say that it involves a family, a lot of memories about the past and a rather good ending! The writing is just beautifully done especially the way the author moves between the memories of Kitty and Esme, dropping clues along the way so the reader can begin to understand the actual truth of things. In many ways it is a mystery and as it unfolds the reader begins to understand Esme and grieve with her for what she has lost.

  • Kristijan
    2019-03-30 14:29

    Ovo je moj prvi susret sa Megi O'Farel i moram priznati da me nije ostavio ravnodušnim. Kako je nestajala Esmi Lenoks je izuzetan roman koji govori o ljudskom licemerju, licu i naličju jednog društva kojeg vode društveno prihvaćene šeme ponašanja pri čemu se sve što od njih odstupa stigmatizuje kao čista devijacija. Ovo je i roman o krađi: ličnosti, originalnosti ali pre svega budućnosti. Ali pre svega, ovo je roman o jednoj velikoj tajni... a tajne uvek nađu neki način da isplivaju na videlo. Glas tri žene se čuje u ovom romanu. Kao na pozornici reflektor se prebacuje sa jedne na drugu i delimično osvetljava pakao u kome se one nalaze. Za jednu je to ljubav (jer se ona boji da iskaže svoju pravu ljubav), za drugu je to Alchajmerova bolest (njoj se na mahove vraćaju gresi prošlosti a gubi se sadašnjost) a za treću ludilo (u koje su je drugi bacili). Svaka od ovih žena ima svoj glas koji odgovara njenom stavu i njenom paklu, a ti glasovi su definitivno verodostojni. Zajedno sa njima trima putujemo napred-natrag kroz vreme i otkrivamo deliće slagalice koju lagano uklapamo u jednu širu sliku. A na toj slici sve tri žene stoje zaglavljene u vremenu i prostoru čekajući katarzu i konačno oslobađanje iz ličnih paklova.Čista petica i odluka da se pročita još nešto od ove autorke :)

  • Angela M
    2019-04-13 18:45

    The opening of this novel reflects the simple beauty and power of O'Farrell's writing and I was immediately drawn into this story.“Let us begin with two girls at a dance. They are at the edge of the room. One sits on a chair, opening and shutting a dance-card with gloved fingers. The other stands beside, watching the dance unfold: the circling couples, the clasped hands, the drumming shoes, the whirling skirts, the bounce of the floor. It is the last hour of the year and the windows behind them are blank with night. The seated girl is dressed in something pale, Esme forgets what, the other in a dark red frock that doesn’t suit her. She has lost her gloves. It begins here. Or perhaps not.”It was not long before my heart was broken for Esme Lennox, a precocious , inquisitive, sometimes misbehaving little girl who is not what her parents want her to be. She suffers the cruelty of her mother and father in some scenes that are just so difficult to read. Esme is tied to a chair so she doesn't crawl under the table during dinner. Everyone jumps up and leaves the table ( it wasn’t clear to me why ) but they forget about her. The family goes on a trip and leaves Esme , as they don’t want to deal with her, home with the nursemaid and her baby brother Hugo. While they are gone, the unthinkable happens , and Esme is alone for several days and traumatized by what has happened. The cruelty continues and Esme mother won’t speak to her or even look at her.There are three narratives in the story : flashbacks of Esme from her childhood days in India and then in Scotland, and from her sister Kitty from those same times and places. The third is the present day story of Iris, Kitty’s granddaughter. These move swiftly from past to present to past again without any warning. It was at first a little confusing but then it becomes clear as the book moves on who is thinking or speaking.If you’ve read the description of the book, you know that Esme has been in a mental institution for 60 years. This reminded me so much of a book I recently read , "What She Left Behind" also about a woman committed because her father said so , not because she was insane.”Before the end I was able to figure out something about Esme that is not revealed until near the end but the book was no less captivating . As for the end - I woke up this morning thinking about it. I was not expecting it. This is a moving story that won’t leave me anytime soon.

  • Dem
    2019-04-03 12:36

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a beautifully written and haunting story about a woman who has been unjustly incarcerated in a mental hospital at a very young age and has remained there for over sixty years. The hospital is now closing down and the inhabitants have to be rehoused. The story is set between the 1930s and the present day.The story is intelligently told and the plot is really well-thought out so there were enough twists and turns to keep me engrossed and intrigued. The way Maggie O Farrell writes is just exquisite, so beautifully descriptive that I was carried away and felt totally drawn into the story and life of Esme Lennox. The character development is perfect and sometimes in a book you come across a character that you completely fall in love with and I fell in love with the character of Esme.This is a short novel but the author does not waste a single word, she really is able to convey so many emotions in each chapter.I love haunting and intriguing novels and The vanishing Acts of Esme Lennox was exactly what I love.I did find myself having to re-read certain paragraphs in this book especially the narrative of Kitty as this is one of those books the you need to pay attention while reading or you may get a little lost. Re-read this book for a book club read and I enjoyed this book all over again, I really enjoyed the characters of Esme and Kittly and loved the parallels drawn between Iris and Esme's life. Look forward to the discussion on this one.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-09 15:45

    Hannah Gordon, Frances Grey and Eleanor Bron begin Maggie O'Farrell's highly acclaimed novel set between the conventions of 1930's Edinburgh and the freedoms of today. 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 more than sixty-one 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 she'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?A gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will haunt you long past its final page.Let us begin with two girls at a dance: One sits on a chair, opening and shutting a dance-card with gloved fingers. The other stands beside her, watching the dance unfold: the circling couples, the bounce of the floor. It begins here'.You've Got a Visitor: Esme Lennox has been confined to a psychiatric hospital for 60 years. Her great-niece Iris has only just learned of her existence. Daughters Who Just Don't Listen: Why was Esme incarcerated in an asylum? Iris goes in search of some answers and discovers a shameful past. The Granddaughter of an Advocate: As Esme gets her first taste of freedom for over 60 years, forgotten memories of her privileged past are reawakened. Meanwhile, Iris must find her a home. I Would Like to Go to the Sea: Esme returns to an old family haunt - North BerwickLike Sugar in WaterPoignant story of the shameful treatment of unconventional women in the 1930s and the lengths a woman might go to, for the thing she wants most.I'm Not Going to Get Married, to Anyone: To her family's surprise, Esme has a highly desirable suitor. She Wouldn't Stop Screaming: Esme's tragic fate is sealed amid the New Year celebrations in Edinburgh.She Wouldn't Let Go of the Baby: Secrets are revealed as Kitty and Esme's memories collide. Can We Visit Kitty Today?: After 61 years, Esme knows the truth and confronts her sister, Kitty.Rummaging through Jenners on Princes Street was the icing on the cake of this quirky, sometimes fun, sometimes worrying, compelling story of the pudding-bowl haircut refuting, hidden deemed mad, great-aunt Esme.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-03-21 11:19

    Every now and then you come across a book so perfectly whole, so complete in itself, that you marvel as you read. It has such flow, such control of style, such effortless prose, that it's almost impossible to put it down. Such a book is The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which I could have easily read in one sitting except I had to go to work.The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is the story of three women and the burning secrets that affected them all. Iris Lockhart is a young, single, modern women living in Edinburgh, having an affair with a married man and pretending to herself that she didn't once have a secret relationship with her step-brother, Alex. But it's her life, and when she gets a call about a great-aunt locked up in a mental institute - an aunt she never knew existed - she wants none of the responsibility. Apart from her grandmother, Kitty, who has Alzheimer's, Iris is the only family member left.The great-aunt, Esme Lennox, is Kitty's younger sister. She's been locked away in Cauldstone for the last sixty years - since she was sixteen. Why? That is Esme's story to tell. But she was locked away, and vanished, and forgotten. Now she enters Iris' life, and what was started all those years ago must find an ending, a resolution. Esme's story is gripping. Esme the girl comes across strongly, vividly, an immediately familiar presence. An odd child, she grew into a modern teen who eschewed marriage and wanted to go to university. She didn't abide by the family's class-conscious values and was always going out without a hat on, or would forget her gloves. These weren't her only crimes. There's also a boy, and where there's a boy, there's trouble. The novel revolves around Esme's past, from her childhood in India to her school life in Edinburgh, and her early experiences in the asylum. Her story is complemented by Iris's messy life and Kitty's meandering thoughts as she strays randomly through the paths of her memories. Like an intricate tapestry, the scenes from the past weave together to make a whole, a powerful, moving story that's simple, cruel and tragic.What makes this story so beautiful and flow so well, is the prose. Told mostly in present tense, it shifts to past effortlessly, usually without me even noticing. That's actually hard to do - shift seamlessly, that is! I did have to read the first two pages twice, to get into the flow of how it was written, but after that it was like being picked up on a breath of memory and carried along, weightless, but ever observant. There are no chapter breaks, only section breaks to separate voice, and this adds to that feeling of flow, that great momentum that the story has. From the first page, you need to know what happens, and what happened. It is fitting to use present tense, to create a sense of timelessness, a sense of every memory having relevance. Kitty's memories don't stick out and jar, told as they are in Kitty's confused, muddled voice - confused but clear; that kind of paradox that's hard to describe but can be created nonetheless. Her voice is distinct, different from Esme's troubled mind. Again the use of present tense works to allow their memories to merge, to show how lost they are in these memories. It's like music, a song being played, the instruments breath and memory and loss and hope. It's horrible to think how easy it was to lock up your wayward daughter or reluctant (or "over-sexed") wife or troublesome sister. Esme wasn't an exceptional case. And this carried on well into the twentieth century. It is just one kind of crime against women. You'd like to think that it couldn't happen anymore but it does, in various forms.Some people found that there were too many loose ends, and the ending was too vague and open. I didn't find that there were any loose ends. Everything came together satisfactorily, and without any padding (it's a pretty short book, especially with how fast you can read it). And the ending, the ending was so right for the story. Yes it is somewhat open, but enough is shown to see where it will probably go, for good or worse.I wanted to share some quotes, as examples of prose. As usual, I didn't mark any exceptional quotes - this time because I was so caught up in the story it was hard to stop reading. I would share some drawn randomly, but I find that without context the magic falls away and the words become just ... words. Interesting how that happens.As a last note, my thanks to those who recommended this book. You were right!

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-08 14:33

    I'm not sure that any review can actually do this book justice. It is emotionally powerful and powerfully heartbreaking, such a short book to convey so much emotion and so much depth. Hard to believe there was a time when a young girl or wife or mother could be committed to a psychiatric institute indefinitely just on the say so of a doctor, a mother,a jealous sister, a father or a husband. But there was. The writing in this book is deceptively simple and oh so elegant. The characters real and complete, using flashbacks and memories. The ending a reversal and for me, perfect.

  • Chrissie
    2019-03-27 18:48

    The theme of this book is the ease with which women in the past could be incarcerated in an insane asylum, often simply at the whim of a family relative. A secondary theme is the subordinate role of women in times past. Get married and have kids; that was our role. Times have changed, thankfully, but even back then some women would not be shoved into that mold. If you read two books that are similar, it is impossible not to make comparisons. I have not long ago read Anna Hope's book of historical fiction entitled The Ballroom. I found the writing very good in both, but in fact better in Hope's. I found her description of life in the asylum both more detailed and more horrifying. I was more drawn in. In Hope’s book you see the place before your eyes. Maybe this was easier to achieve because the asylum in Hope's book did actually exist. Hope dedicated the book to her great-great-great grandfather who had been an inmate. O'Farrell's book weaves in other threads and related themes which I feel detract from the central focus. In this book the main protagonists are two sisters, Esme and Kitty, as well as a granddaughter, Iris. Iris is torn between her love for her married half-brother and another married man. She provides the contrast of women in modern time. The two sisters' relationship is another theme, further extended into a mystery that is to be solved. Finally, the ending.... while I do completely understand why what happens could happen, and this means Esme's character portrayal is successfully drawn, I would have preferred more details. While what happens is crystal clear, it is tied up too quickly. Pang, and the book is over! (view spoiler)[Esme kills her sister! I won't say why here because then there would be absolutely no point in reading the book.(hide spoiler)]I don't feel the book's end resolves Iris' love conflict adequately. Esme's disappearing act is made more of than I think necessary. Nevertheless, the book did keep my attention all the way through. I didn't want to stop listening. It doesn't drag ever, and on finishing the book I admit to having a soft spot in my heart for Esme. The audiobook narration by Daniela Nardini was superb. The book is set primarily in Scotland, and the narrator has a delightful Scottish accent. The story shifts back and forth in time and between the views of the three central protagonists, yet I was absolutely never confused. That is quite a feat. There are no chapters that designate to the reader the change in protagonist speaking. How the author did this so successfully I cannot explain, all I can say is that it worked. You knew who was talking by what was said; it is that simple. In the audiobook, when Kitty is speaking, you hear a particular resonance, as if the sound were coming from a deep well. She has Alzheimer's; her thoughts flip between subjects and are disconnected. The added sound effect worked very well. Much credit must be given to Nardini for so successfully narrating such a challenging script, having different people, times and confused lines. She varies intonations expertly. Also, Sebastian Barry's book The Secret Scripture deals with the same theme! There are more I haven't even mentioned. I think one would have to conclude that the topic is well covered.

  • Lindsay
    2019-03-23 12:45

    The human brain is a tricky thing and O'Farrell has provided readers with a fascinating look into the psyche of three women in "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox." Iris learns of her great aunt's existence when the mental institution in which Esme has been living for the past 60 years contacts her about its upcoming closure. Her inability to go on living as though this woman never existed begins the unraveling of a dark family mystery that few could ever imagine possible.Although female "hysteria" is more a hallmark of the nineteenth century, O'Farrell's book sheds light on how misunderstood mental illness has been even in the first half of the twentieth century and especially for women. This slim novel is told from the perspective of three very different women: Iris, her grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her great aunt Esme. Part memory, part story, and part stream of consciousness, this novel is as captivating as it is haunting.I will say that I was disappointed in the ending mostly because even sitting here at this very moment I am not sure exactly what happened. As a reader, I can handle ambiguity and have no problem using my imagination, but I read the final pages three times without grasping what they were attempting to convey. This prevented me from being able to give the book five stars, something I desperately wanted to do. However, I would still recommend this book because it is a powerful reminder of how far we have come and how far we have to go in order to truly understand ourselves and accept all the different kinds of people around us.

  • Carol
    2019-04-12 15:24

    Unforgettable book with a stunning ending that will haunt me for some time to come. This is an outstanding book and a tragic and disturbing story...believable because what was done to Esme may not have been a rare occurrence for women in that time. As a child and young woman, Esme was naïve yet spirited…an independent thinker, which confounded her family. It is no secret that Esme was locked away in an institution for 61 years. The story is told from three points of view to gradually reveal the mystery of Esme’s heartbreaking family history. Four stars only because those three points of view as well as the past and present time frames are sometimes confusing and hard to follow.

  • Lidia
    2019-04-16 12:30

    4,5. Hay personajes con los que resulta muy fácil empatizar e incluso sentirte un poco identificada. Esme. Esa chica que prefería leer a hacer lo que se esperaba de ella por su condición de mujer. Esme la rara. Y cuando una es rara o incómoda en una época donde la mujer no vale nada y está bajo la tutela del hombre (padre o marido), entonces "desaparece".Me ha encantado la narrativa de Maggie, la estructura... al principio un poco caótica para ir tomando forma y sentido. He adorado a Esme, me ha entristecido y me despertaba mucha ternura.La extraña desaparición de Esme Lennox es una novela de mujeres, de decisiones, de ser víctima de una época y unas costumbres (Me he acordado mucho de Camille Claudel). Y no quiero escatimarle ni una estrella.Recomendadísima.

  • Raquel
    2019-04-12 13:31

    Una historia victoriana, nunca suficientemente contada, narrada con un estilo actual, fresco y ágil. Érase una vez una chica a la que la tocó vivir en una época en la que ser una misma y disfrutar de la propia felicidad estaba condenado con un nombre: histeria. Y el castigo era el encierro en un psiquiátrico. ¿Qué es eso de no llevar guantes? ¿Qué es eso de no querer casarse y decir que quieres ir a la Universidad? ¿Qué es eso de no mostrarte dulce, sumisa y obediente? La Madre corta las alas, el padre tranca la cerradura, la hermana tira la llave. Tradición, deslealtad, Alzheimer y crítica social. Maggie O'Farrell combina todos estos elementos para crear una obra literaria magistral.

  • Sonia Gomes
    2019-04-16 17:28

    Esmee Lennox incarcerated in a mental asylum at the age of sixteen for sixty years only because she did not fit in with the time, besides she is a convenient scapegoat for the mother, in whose absence the little brother Hugo dies and Esmee remains with the little dead brother for 3 days alone in a house with no one else. Esmee has a wild sort of beauty that attracts Jamie, Esmee is not so attracted to him, she loves reading, studying but is just curious about sex. The person who really is in love with Jamie, albeit secretly is Kitty, Esmee's older sister, but Jamie hardly has a glance for her. Sadly for Esmee, Jamie brutally rapes her on the night of a Ball.This is the beginning of the incarceration for Esmee. Meanwhile Kitty marries Duncan, a weird man (maybe a homosexual, we do not know) who does not want to have sexual relations with Kitty. What follows is the saddest, most traumatic experience for Esmee, Kitty takes her baby with the approval of Esmee's father and leaves her(Esmee) in the asylum for the next sixty years.Esmee reappears only when the asylum is about to close down as Iris (Kitty's grand daughter ? or is it Esmee's grand daughter !!!) takes her to her tiny apartment. The worst part in my opinion is that just when Esmee and Iris are getting to know each other, learning to love each other, there is this abrupt, horrendous end. To me it seems contrived, it is as though the author does not have a 'living space' for Esmee and gets her to kill Kitty, so that she goes back into another lunatic asylum. So Esmee is back into her lonely place with nothing but despair to look forward to, but maybe with a lot of visits from Iris. The end could have been a fruitful, relationship shared by Esmee and Iris

  • Pamela
    2019-04-10 14:43

    This is one of those stories that has all the components of greatness--a well-concieved, interesting trajectory, mystery, betrayal, tragedy, paralleling societal and family injustice and feminist themes. There are also some moments of lovely poetry in O'Farrell's writing style. I should have loved it, and I certainly gobbled it up, reading it much more voraciously than I usually read novels. But this novel is simply not fully formed, and therefore has left a number of reviewers unsatisfied. One reviewer mentioned the perplexing choices of the three main characters and that is a very valid point--they don't read with authenticity, but rather as strange contradictions made to power the story through. If these characters continually seem to act against the personalities described and presented, we need to understand why. A reader traverses this novel eagerly, but ultimately monumental events occur in an ephemeral landscape. We never really get a grip on why Esme's life occurs the way it does--why are her parents so unyielding? Why does her sister never capitulate? And as someone mentions why were we never given a glimpse of a real life where at least one person intervenes or cares about the plight of another? The events are presented, but they are given to us bare, without perpective or resonance within the psyches of the characters.If I were editing this novel, I'd have asked the author to flesh out the intentionally vague suggestions she plops around (feeling almost like gimmicks rather than authentic plot devices), not because I need to be told/shown, but because the characters ring thin when the final denouement occurs (as a result of the lack of insights/motivations we are given for actions throughout the story). Another reviewer mentions that she wishes the author had chosen another option for Esme, and I have to agree--although it is not, of course, my story. We move along the plot yearning for the clear need for redemption, and instead we are given the most obtuse suggestion of violence. If Esme's choice was such, give us the satisfaction of something tangible--a thought, an outsider's thought, a view ... SOMETHING!The ending IS perplexing, and I couldn't be sure what had happened--although I have a good idea. By contrast one can examine a classically-told, but similar(ish) story like The Yellow Wallpaper, where we are not left reading and re-reading words for clarification that never really comes, and where the story is satisfying in it's completion. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox feels like an unclosed circle.In summary, the story/idea is very compelling. The three separate voices of the main characters are distinct and interesting. There are some really lovely moments of prose and some edgy and boundary-defying relationships and even some questioning of what we consider "normal." However too many jarring events are thrown at the reader without properly contextualizing and

  • Shawn Mooney
    2019-04-17 12:29

    I’m a bit late to the O’Farrell party, but I think I might be here to stay! A fascinatingly screwed-up woman discovers a great-aunt she never knew about, now released from a psychiatric institution after more than 5 decades; as secret after secret unfurls, as she begins to take responsibility for this aunt, the protagonist begins to own her own secret, illicit desires. In economical, deceptively simple prose, O’Farrell roped me all the way in.

  • Nicole
    2019-03-21 17:28

    My favorite book so far this year, and I have a feeling it will be one of the top three once 2009 comes to an end. A great book!Interesting, intriguing, sad, suspenseful, shocking are some of the words I would use to describe this book...and the best part is that it all came perfectly together at the end. Definitely going to look into reading more by this author!

  • Cris Díaz
    2019-03-26 16:48

    Un libro que me llegó por casualidad y cuya lectura ha supuesto el descubrimiento de una autora que me ha picado totalmente.Una narración compleja y rica, una protagonista maravillosa que esconde mucho y unos secundarios que completan un puzzle sin dejar un solo hueco.Desde luego, breve pero lleno de emociones.Sinceramente, cuando he leído la última letra quería más, no quería dejar a esas dos mujeres. Supongo que eso dice algo.

  • Jim
    2019-04-15 12:47

    Maggie O'Farrell's new novel asks the question: What do you do if the local psychiactric hospital calls to tell you you've got a great aunt you never knew you had? Iris Lockhart doesn't want to bring a lady who may or may not be crazy into her house, but with her parents gone and her grandmother, Kitty, suffering from alzheimers disease, she hasn't got much family left and Aunt Esme throws everything Iris thinks she knows into question. It's a compelling story told from a number of angles. The scenes describing Esme's youth in colonial India and subsequent move to Edinburgh are hauntingly evocative. Kitty's epigrammatic ramblings, stylized to convey her spotty memory, feel a bit like literary hocus-pocus. The most curious aspect of the novel is the author's decision not to organize the material into chapters. Thus, the novel, though brief, unfolds in one long progression of modular scenes. This arrangement compresses the story's framing device so that the scenes set in contemporary Edinburgh feel as if the events have been squeezed into a single week and, at times, reads like a screenplay. I don't think it gives anything away to say that if the past is going to jarringly intrude on the present, as it does for Kitty, there ought to be a reasonable explanation as to how this was able to happen. Once Esme's vanishing has been explained, we're no closer to knowing how the hospital knew to contact Iris. It's a minor gaffe, but it erodes the reader's confidence in the plot. The flap copy calls The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox a modern gothic, but its not an apt descriptor and misses the mark by a wide margin.That said, it's a strong story capably told with a cast of characters who bring a ton of baggage to the table. Esme, is a bit of a cipher, but O'Farrell describes her past with generous detail and shows how easy it was to institutionalize women who didn't fit into society's view of what a proper young lady should be without beating the reader over the head with it.

  • Lisa McLemon
    2019-04-14 18:48

    I'm having trouble summing up this book. It's very complex, it's horrifying and it's very, very sad.Iris Lockhart starts getting phone calls one day from a mental institution named Cauldstone claiming that she is listed as the contact for one Esme Lennox - the sister of Iris' grandmother, Katherine (Kitty). Iris insists there must be a mistake, because Katherine never, ever mentioned having a sister. The paperwork proves it, however, and Iris is pretty much forced to take in this old woman who has been institutionalized for over sixty years. Not knowing what to expect, a very sad story begins to unfold as it becomes clear that Esme is not sick, and never has been.Esme grew up in old Scotland at a time when women's lives were planned out for them completely from the moment they were born. The only purpose for a girl was to groom herself for marriage, when she would bear children. Her husband was chosen by her parents and how she happened to feel about the man was not taken into consideration. As a woman, you were expected to accept the life laid out for you without question or protest. The mistake Esme made? Letting on that she was aware that she not only HAD a brain, but knew how to use it, too. Because she dared to have opinions, express them and try her hardest to break out of the mold, they locked her up and threw away the key - for sixty years.As Iris spends more time with Esme, Esme's tragic story comes into focus, and Iris comes face to face with some awful, very sad truths.This book moved me on a level I wasn't really prepared for. I identified with Esme in that she's a woman who has no desire whatsoever to follow the path laid out for her by society's standards. And that someone would do what was done to Esme is horrifying.Highly recommended for anyone looking for something thought-provoking.

  • Myra
    2019-04-11 18:19

    I borrowed this book from my friend Tara, and was it ever a great recommendation!The very nature of this novel makes it a hard one to do a review on without giving away the best parts of the book. As the story unfolds that surrounds Esme, Iris, and Kitty, the words and feelings have a way of touching the reader quite deeply. As I was making my way through this novel, there came a point where the story held me captive and pushed my emotions to the front, like nothing I've read in quite some time. Many other reviewers have said this, and I will repeat it: this story will haunt you long after you read the last word, and you will find yourself teasing out the meaning of the ending even days after you've finished it.Maggie O'Farrell's story of secrets, lies, lost time, and freedom gained by truth is a most superb and remarkable one. There is so much about the human condition that can be learned and teased from its pages.I'm not sure if anyone will read this review, but I'm wondering what any of you might have thought of Kitty after finishing this book? :)

  • Colleen
    2019-03-21 19:43

    Locked up decades ago for such outlandish behavior as dancing, Esme Lennox is finally released when her asylum is shut down. Esme is thrust into the care of her grand-niece Iris, a modern young women whose struggle to overcome her "unnatural" love for her step-brother gives her more in common with Esme than either could imagine. As Iris tries to unravel the mystery of Esme's existence, she learns more (though ultimately not enough) about her hidden family history, information she never obtained from her Alzheimers-suffering grandmother Kitty. The shocking ending packs a powerful punch, and leaves an indelible mark on the reader. This remarkable novel tells the sad tale of the fate that awaited women who didn't fit society's mold not all that many years ago. Marked, and then punished, by events beyond her control, Esme was locked up at 16 and lived in a virtual prison for her entire life. Iris is also living a life constrained by society's expectations, denying her love of her stepbrother yet unable to form a strong connection with anyone else. The parallel stories highlight the similarities between these two women, but offer hope that Iris will be able to break free in a way Esme never could. From beginning to end this book made me sad and angry by turns, and maintaining that level of intense negative feeling was draining to say the least. Though the ending was like a punch in the gut, I applaud the author's ability to stay true to the tone of the novel (though I might have wished for a happier ending). I also wouldn't have minded another chapter to fill in at the end, but suspect that would have diluted the power of the narrative. I highly recommend reading this book, but not if you're already having a bad day!

  • Sonja Arlow
    2019-03-22 16:38

    I never go onto Goodreads topic discussion groups, but for some reason last week I started reading the responses in a group called Most Underrated Books and found this book mentioned there.That reminded me that I had earmarked this book a year ago and promptly forgot about it. To be honest the book reminded me a lot of What She Left Behind so I found it difficult not to compare the two.The story alternates between Iris, Esme and Kitty however as there are no chapters and no warning from one paragraph to the next, you are not always sure who is speaking. This made the reading feel a bit jarring.I also felt that there was not enough time spent explaining Kitty’s circumstances and character for me to completely understand her actions. Esme’s story was definitely a tragic one, and probably rooted in a lot of truth for the time period. Women ended up in mental institutions for various reasons, even if they are just too outspoken or difficult to manage by their families. I felt a lot of empathy for Esme and her parts absolutely deserve 4 stars but overall the word that comes to mind to describe the feeling of the book is bleak.This definitely has a very somber atmosphere with very little resolution and peace found in the conclusion. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy this book, it was an easy read and I found Esme’s character the most interesting out of the lot but somehow at the end I was left with a feeling of wanting more. The ending didn’t disappoint me as it did with other reviewers but I have to say the last page, literally the LAST page, was executed as if the author was in a huge hurry. It literally just ended very abruptly and I feel it could have been done better based on what I have seen of her writing throughout this story.

  • Annie
    2019-03-23 13:30

    The plot sounded interesting enough: Iris, a vintage clothes shop owner, is suddenly contacted about the care of a great aunt she never knew she had, Esme. Esme is being released from a mental institution (it's closing down) where she has lived for 60 years. Iris's parents are both deceased; her only relative is her grandmother, Kitty, who is currently battling Alzheimer's in a care center. There were no chapters and the perspectives would shift throughout the pages between each woman. Kitty's narrative was very disjointed and rambling, a literary device mimicking the disease of her mind. Esme would flash between memories of the past as well as the present. She was my favorite character, up until the end. I felt a lot of pity for her and the injustice of her situation. Iris was pretty annoying, her relationships with men, incredibly dysfunctional and dull. The one with her stepbrother Alex, particularly grated on my nerves. Yes, you read that right, stepbrother. I guess the book was trying to make a point about the injustice of mental institutions for women of the time, that they could be committed on such arbitrary testimony, but it got lost in the swirl of everything else. There were messages about female gender roles, feminism and marriages, but none of it really impacted me. Much of the story was murky, I never really understood what happened to Esme at a young age with her nanny and baby brother. And although the ending was intentionally left up to the reader, I didn't care enough to even wonder what happened, I wish the author had accommodated my laziness and just described what happened.No favorite quotes.

  • Megan
    2019-04-18 18:44

    SERIOUSLY?! THAT'S HOW THIS BOOK ENDS?! What a goddamn waste of my time.I hated this book until the last bit, when we finally get to see Esme's admission to the home through her eyes. Then I got teary and could really appreciate the story. But then it went right back to that horrible writing style. I get that Kitty has dementia or Alzheimer's or whatever, but does the author have any idea how horribly distracting it is to read a book from the point of view of someone with dementia or Alzheimer's?! And then the switching back and forth...Esme wasn't really crazy, she never was crazy, she didn't really have schizophrenia, it was all an excuse to ship her off and get rid of her. And when that Dalziel piece of shit raped her and got her pregnant, I wanted to rip his eyes out. And when her family shipped her off to that place and let her rot there, and then Kitty took the baby without so much as a by-your-leave because of her queer husband, UGH IT MADE ME SO MAD.But then, THEN, to have Esme kill her sister at the end? Come on! And what was the point of introducing Iris and Alex and Luke at all, since nothing was resolved at the end? Iris just gets dragged along with this old lady who's just killed her sister, while Alex is left thinking God knows what, and Luke, well who the hell knows what's up with him and his wife. These characters were completely vapid and ridiculous, and Esme was the only person who seemed real.I really did throw this book across the room when I was finished. I haven't done that since I read Twilight, and Twilight wasn't even my book.Ugh. DO NOT READ. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME.ETA 8/28/14 - After reading Elizabeth is Missing, I have come to appreciate the POV of someone with Alzheimer's/Dementia. This book leaves a lot to be desired in that respect. While I have changed my mind on my original comment ("I get that Kitty has dementia or Alzheimer's or whatever, but does the author have any idea how horribly distracting it is to read a book from the point of view of someone with dementia or Alzheimer's?!"), I still think this book was awful.

  • Katy Noyes
    2019-04-13 18:29

    An amazing novel. I'd put this off for a year or more - always something new and crisp to get to first! - and really wish I'd read this a long time ago.Sometimes books about mental illness and split time periods are very confusing, but I didn't find this with Esme at all. I was riveted. I was aching to know just what had caused Esme to be locked in an 'asylum' for more than six decades. What her connection was to Iris, what secrets the past would bring to light.Often, the twists in this kind of story fall flat, or are obvious. when it dawned on me the truth about Esme I was open-mouthed for a moment. A proper "no!!" moment. Such a well-told story. Outrageous that women were once locked up for such minor misbehaviours as demonstrated by characters here in Esme's home, real history kept alive for my generation for whom this is quite unreal. I really felt the time period of Esme's youth, attitudes and the world feeling quite vivid. Esme herself had more than one voice - that of the old woman locked away, the young girl struggling to conform, the wilful teenager that we know is imminently to be detained (but why?).The reveals are masterly executed, I didn't see them coming and found myself frowning with confusion that I hadn't thought of these possibilities.Iris in the present, a relative of Esme's, as well as her deteriorating older sister both are rounded characters that play equal roles in the story, Iris's reaction to Esme's incarceration a mirror of our own, her grandmother's dementia and babble revealing secrets gradually and artfully.A modern masterpiece I would say. So easy to lap it up, full of real shocks and beautiful writing. And an eye-widening ending that isn't explicit but lets you draw your own conclusions. Wow.I thought of Elizabeth is Missing as well as Grace Henderson Says it All as I read this. But this is better than either. My first Maggie O'Farrell and probably not my last.

  • Amy
    2019-04-11 17:47

    It hinges on the reasons why Esme was incarcerated: she apparently was a spirited girl, who would rather read than pursue a husband. The ultimate sin that committed her was seemingly dancing in a negligee of her mother's, and becoming hysterical when caught by her parents doing so. Esme is "taken away" for a rest, but ends up being hidden away for much of the rest of her life. As the story unfolds, family secrets, betrayals, and the general stuff of human lives comes out.In the meantime, there is the story of Iris, who has her own conflicts to resolve: her married lover is making noises about becoming more committed and her pseudo-stepbrother is interfering with her emotions. She knew nothing of Esme's existence until she received a call from the institution saying she was being discharged. Esme is essentially thrust upon her with no discussion or input from the hospital, which as someone who has been involved heavily with discharge planning for patients, I found a bit disconcerting.The book rolls along fairly well, though a bit choppy. I was not displeased with it until the end. I have re-read it several times and still can't tell you exactly how it ended. The only thing I know for sure is that it left me feeling dissatisfied and uncertain.

  • Malia
    2019-04-05 12:38

    I've read O'Farrell's 'After You'd Gone' some time ago, and remembered liking it well enough to try another. 'The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox' is a strange book. The story shifts around in time and from one PoV to another, which I rather enjoyed, even if it was a bit confusing sometimes. O'Farrell didn't use chapters either, which added to the confusion, though I think, in the end, the choice was made to aid the slightly befuddled flow of the story. The characters are confused and maybe the reader should be, too:-)The story is told largely in flash-backs, by Esme, Iris, and Esme's sister, Kitty. I liked this way of slowly unfolding the story, adding a glimpse and moving on before too much is exposed at once. However, this also served to make none of the characters feel particularly real to me. You get these hightened moments that tell the story, but make the characters seem almost unreachable. I could not connect to them, though one cannot help but feel for their situations.This book was interesting, and I cannot find any great flaw, yet I cannot say i enjoyed it either. It was one of those books that makes you a little uncomfortable, and leaves you a little dissatisfied.Find more reviews and bookish fun at