Monday, 15 August 2011

Book Club: The Vanishing Act of Esmé Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell





With the holiday season upon us, we’ve been searching for the perfect book to read while we’re away – something easy to digest but thought-provoking and beautifully written at the same time. The Vanishing Act of Esmé Lennox is exactly that kind of book, even at only just over 240 pages - making it our pick for the perfect alternative summer read…

Simple but poetic in style, Maggie O’Farrell’s 2007 novel tells the stories of three women and the dark, interwoven secrets that bring them together. We meet an elderly woman, Kitty, who is ridden with Alzheimer’s and whose glimpses of memories from her younger days flitter through the book mysteriously. We meet Kitty’s granddaughter, Iris Lockhart, a modern career woman stumbling her way through life and affairs with married men, who gets a call asking her to look after a great aunt she never knew existed. Finally, we meet Esmé Lennox, the great aunt herself, locked away in a mental institution at sixteen by her own family; and, as the plot develops, we’re shown her life and how she came to be in such a place.

O’Farrell’s writing almost always includes themes relating to family ties and love, and the Vanishing Act of Esmé Lennox is no different; it’s full of acute observations both about the women in the book and about sisterhood more generally. Once you do begin reading, you’ll most probably find yourself racing through the whole thing in one sitting. One of those mysterious, thoughtful books, be prepared to find yourself wondering about it months after reading the final page. Oh, and watch out for the twist at the end…

1 love letters:

Emma said...

I read this book last summer and could not put it down. I remember reading it solidly for hours at a time.

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