Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell was originally published in 2006. The hardcover copy is 245 pages long. This is one of those books I picked up after reading more than one good recommendation. In this case the good reviews were right. This is a very good novel. I like the description from Carolyn Parkhurst on the back cover that says, "This haunting and extraordinarily engrossing novel - part gothis mystery, part tangled family drama - reminded me why I love reading in the first place: it's because a well-written book has the power to carry us away to a place we've never been but always suspected was there." O'Farrell kept me guessing right up to the end. I highly recommend The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Rating: 4

Synopsis from cover:

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 had 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 readers long past its final page.


Quotes:

"It is always the meaningless tasks that endure: the washing, the cooking, the clearing, the cleaning. Never anything majestic or significant, just the tiny rituals that hold together the seams of human life." pg. 2

"[M]y colleague and I have worked closely with Euphemia during our recent schedule of Rehabilitaion Programmes. We are fully convinced of her docility and are very confident about her successful rehabilitation into society." pg. 35

"And something about her changes, and Iris has to hold her breath because she has seen something passing over the woman's face, like a shadow cast on water." pg. 49

"The cold was astonishing. It seemed to flay the skin from their faces, to chill the flesh right down to the bone." pg. 70