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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

In The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Esme and Kitty Lennox are born in colonial India. Typhoid fever claims their brother's life and the family comes back to Edinburgh. Esme is unsettled by her brother's death, and becomes rebellious. Her free spirit, high intelligence, and refusal to follow the rules of polite society cause great concern. When she returns upset from a party, Kitty tells a doctor that Esme has hallucinations, and Esme is sent to a mental asylum at age 16, not uncommon for wayward women in the 1930s. 61 year later, the asylum is being closed and her niece, Iris, is told she must come get her. Iris didn't even know Esme existed and takes her back to what had been the family home. She finds her aunt sane and articulate. When Esme finds that Kitty is alive in a nursing home, albeit suffering from Alzheimer's, she wants to visit her. The family secrets that led to Esme's incarceration might finally be exposed. Maggie O'Farrell's novel has received positive reviews with the New Statesman saying, "The haunting final pages are among the finest O'Farrell has ever written. This, the most satisfying and least mannered of her novels, marks a significant leap forward both in narrative precision and imaginative skill."
Buy The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
New Statesman review
by Christie Hickman

The Guardian review
by Jane Gardam

Scotland on Sunday review
by Chitra Ramaswamy

The Independent review
by Lesley McDowell

New York Times review
by Julia Scheeres

Washington Post review
by Ron Charles

The Telegraph review
by Amanda Craig

The Observer review
by Caroline Boucher

The Scotsman review
by Amy Mathieson

Maggie O'Farrell
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