The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
by: Maggie O'Farrell

Published: 2008

# of pages: 256

Fascinating book! It's disturbing at times, but I learned a lot and I enjoyed the way it was written. Word of advice: try to read this as quickly as you can. It won't be hard, it's a book that you can't put down once you start to read, but it's told by different narrators, one of which is in a journal form that is in fragments. It's hard to understand, but it all comes together and it's easier if you read it all at once or within a couple of days so that you can remember the different parts.

The story is about a few different women, but it hinges on Esme, who in the present time of the story is being released from a psychiatric hospital. Esme's great-niece, Iris, has power of attorney over Esme and must pick her up from the hospital and is responsible for finding the older woman a place to live. As the two women meet for the first time, family secrets start to unfold and the story of how Esme Lennox disappeared from the world forever is told.

I've learned about the psychiatric hospitals of the past in one of my college literature classes, but this taught me even more about the status of women in the early to mid 1900s. It's shocking that even in a more modern time like that, women were still treated terribly. I think it's important for everyone to remember that part of history, which is one reason why I recommend this book. Not long after reading the book I watched the movie "The Changeling." Which I also recommend watching after reading this book. It was a neat coincidence that I came into contact with two related stories so close together, but I'm glad I read and watched them.

There are disturbing images in the book and some adult situations although those are not very graphic or detailed. I recommend this to all adults, especially those interested in Gothic stories, the history of women, or just a good read.

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