Book Review: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

I completely fell in love with this book in the one sitting it took me to read it (because I just couldn’t put it down).

This is the story 2 young girls, Kitty and Esme, growing up in the 20’s and 30’s in first colonial India and then in Edinbugh when their parents move back home. They are sisters who share everything and love each other very much yet one is the dutiful, polite, home-maker type and the the other is the slightly rebellious younger sister who wants to stay on at shcool rather than marry a nice boy. After a series of events (which include trying on her Mothers clothes of all things!) and a shocking incident that happens to her, Esme (the younger sister) is sent to a lunatic assylum and dissowned by her own family and where she remains for the next 61 years.

Inbetween this story told by Esme and also Kitty (whom now has altzheimers) we also flit between the past and the present with Kitty’s Grandaugter, Iris, who also narrates her story. The way O’Farrell has woven the 3 women’s voices so intricately together to reveal only parts of the story at a time is just amazing and also serves to keep you turning those pages well into the night. The story is so beautiflly told and the twists and surprises mean that you can’t possibly put it down even for a minute.

I don’t really know what I expected of this book, but I certainly wasn’t prepared to be so blown away by it.  I really do highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy as much as I did. I have read one other of O’Farrell’s (After You’d Gone) which I also enjoyed but not as much as this one.


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