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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
by Maggie O'Farrell | Literature & Fiction
Registered by veganknitter of Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Thursday, July 26, 2007
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by veganknitter): permanent collection


11 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by veganknitter from Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Thursday, July 26, 2007

9 out of 10

Picked up in the Bolton Sally Army shop; my favourite bookshop.

It was only £1.99 too.

This is the choice of my College Book Group and as I have already read it as part of a bookring, I'll see if anyone wants to borrow it.

Esme is released from the mental institution where she has been incarcarated for over 60 years. A young relative, Iris, is given the responsibility of looking after Esme, even though she did not know of her existence.

As the book progresses the reader finds out more about why Esme was put away and also her sister's role in this terrible miscarriage of justice.

I liked the way Iris's character develops too; at the beginning of the book she is a bit selfish and self-absorbed but she shows great kindness towards Esme who has been thrust into her life.

A wonderful book, sad but ultimately quite uplifting by the end. 


Journal Entry 2 by veganknitter at -- Controlled Release in Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This book has not been rated.

Released 7 yrs ago (8/9/2007 UTC) at -- Controlled Release in Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

Lending to my friend Pat 


Journal Entry 3 by veganknitter from Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Saturday, September 15, 2007

9 out of 10

Back from my friend Pat.

Off to my mum now which is appropriate as she is visiting the theatre of the ex asylum Normansfield Hospital in Teddington this weekend.

I'm sure she'll enjoy it. 


Journal Entry 4 by veganknitter at == by post or by hand == in Richmond upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, October 14, 2007

This book has not been rated.

Released 6 yrs ago (10/24/2007 UTC) at == by post or by hand == in Richmond upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

Given to my mum 


Journal Entry 5 by veganknitter from Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Sunday, December 30, 2007

This book has not been rated.

Back from my mum who loved it.

Apparently a bookring of this has stalled so as soon as I found out more about it, I'll send this to the originator. 


Journal Entry 6 by veganknitter from Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Monday, January 07, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Offering to wilksie as a replacement for a lost bookring copy 


Journal Entry 7 by veganknitter from Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 15, 2008

9 out of 10

I am restarting wilksie's stalled bookring with this, so the order is:

LadyIndigo01
Ozone-nut
Chelseagirl
Herrgirl
Scotsbookie
Decembermum
Cross-patch
Vespa
Kiwiinengland
Heathwitch
Anglersrest
wanderingstar8 (the book is here)
Back to me (veganknitter) unless more takers

See the original journal entries on 881-5255595 for my review and wilksie's comments.

Enjoy it everyone and I hope it doesn't get lost this time. 


Journal Entry 8 by veganknitter at -- controlled release in -- Controlled Release, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Released 6 yrs ago (1/18/2008 UTC) at -- controlled release in -- Controlled Release, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

Posting to LadyIndigo01 - happy travels, little book! 


Journal Entry 9 by LadyIndigo01 from Fordingbridge, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This book has not been rated.

received safe and sound. I look forward to reading it and will be back with a JE before too long! 


Journal Entry 10 by LadyIndigo01 from Fordingbridge, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, January 28, 2008

9 out of 10

Great book - I loved it (apart from the fact I couldnt put it down - and I'm trying to do an OU assignment to a tight deadline!).

I loved the way the story was told from the viewpoints of different people. Its a great story - just wish it had lasted longer!

I will be posting it to Ozone-nut tomorrow

thank you very much for sharing this book 


Journal Entry 11 by ozone-nut from Yateley, Hampshire United Kingdom on Sunday, February 03, 2008

8 out of 10

received safe and sound on Thursday - thanks - and sorry for not journalling earlier.

I read this in bed this morning. I was intending to get up and go to the gym but I just couldn't put the book down once I started. Such a sad story and even sadder to reflect that it could quite easily have happened for real. 


Journal Entry 12 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Received safely, many thanks. Can't wait to read it!! 


Journal Entry 13 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Sunday, February 17, 2008

10 out of 10

Wow. I've just read this in one sitting - a rare feat for me these days - and am completely blown aw3ay by it. I loved Maggie O'Farrell's first novel but wasn't keen on the other two so I approached this with some trepidation, but this has just put her firmly back in my favourite author list.

Along with her sister Kitty Esme was born in colonial India but, following a family tragedy, the family come home to 1930s Edinburgh. Esme is feisty and rebellious, a girl with ideas way ahead of the times - and her behaviour is unacceptable to her family, who have her confined in a mental asylum at the age of 16. Sixty years later the asylum is due to close and Esme is released into the care of her great niece Kitty who, up till now, knows nothing of her existence.

The story of Esme's life and confinement unravels gradually through her unspoken recollections and the delirious ramblings of sister Kitty, who has Alzeimers. The resulting tale is at once saddening, hilarious and shocking and the ending will leave you stunned.

One of the best books I've read in a long time.

I'll pass this on to Herrgirl in the week. 


Journal Entry 14 by herrgirl from -- Somewhere in Oxon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Friday, February 22, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Received today, thanks chelseagirl. Will read this as soon as I've finished my current read, which is owed in a bookswap. So many books, so little time! 


Journal Entry 15 by herrgirl from -- Somewhere in Oxon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Monday, March 03, 2008

This book has not been rated.

This is definitely one of my books of the year! I enjoyed the very spare style of writing and the easy switching between colonial India, starchy Edinburgh society of the 1930's and the present-day. The story is revealed in fragments, the past from Esme’s memories, her demented sister Kitty’s streams of consciousness, and the present from Iris’s modern standpoint. Like many other women of her generation, as we now know, who did not conform and fit the requirements of family and society, Esme, at the age of 16, is locked away without question or investigation in a mental institution and never mentioned again. As the tale gradually unfolds, the full tragedy and betrayal of her life are revealed. The book left some questions unanswered, although the reader can use their imagination to fill in those gaps, and the ending was a complete shock.

I have PM'd scotsbookie and will get it on its way when I hear from her. 


Journal Entry 16 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, March 08, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Arrived safely yesterday, thank you. I'm officially in ring crisis now but should get to this within the month. 


Journal Entry 17 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 18, 2008

9 out of 10

A great read which I devoured in a couple of sittings. The way the story unfolds in the present & through flashbacks & told from differing points of view is very satisfying. Haunting, sad & poignant. I don't know if I'd call the ending uplifting but it seemed apt.

Just going to PM Decembermum for their details. Thank you veganknitter for ringing the book. 


Journal Entry 18 by scotsbookie at to a fellow bookcrosser in Bookring, a postal release -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Released 6 yrs ago (3/19/2008 UTC) at to a fellow bookcrosser in Bookring, a postal release -- Controlled Releases

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

 


Journal Entry 19 by Decembermum from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Saturday, March 22, 2008

This book has not been rated.

This arrived today, I'm really looking forward to reading it, it looks great.

Thanks. 


Journal Entry 20 by Decembermum from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 25, 2008

9 out of 10

What a great book. I've been in bed sick over Easter and this was just the right level for me to be able to read it whilst ill.

I loved the way the story was told through Esme's memories, Kitty's ramblings and from Iris's modern day point of view. Esme's story is heartbreaking and, unfortunately, only too possible. My heart went out to her, locked up for over 60 years for nothing more than being different and the fact that she was unable to tell anyone she'd been raped. I also felt sorry for Kitty, seeing it as an opportunity to escape but then having to live not only with the memories of what she'd done to her sister but also the daily memory through her son.

I found it interesting that much of the story was never spoken out loud, it was Esme's thoughts and we don't know whether Kitty was just thinking or writing a diary or rambling out loud but I'm certain that nobody was listening to her. As a result the reader ends up knowing a great deal more than any of the protagonists about what really happened. Iris managed to piece some of it together but even she doesn't know as much as we do and, without Kitty's version, never will.

The ending was shocking but very fitting and I wished the book had carried on, that Iris had been able to hear the whole story and to find out what happened to Esme next.

It struck me on reflection that there are many parallels between this book and Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Aside from the obvious connection of the surname Lennox, both Mary and Esme are difficult children, brought up in colonial India, for whom their parents have little time nor inclination and both return to Britain following an outbreak of fever in India. Then there is the parallel with Colin in The Secret Garden, locked away from the world because his father can't bear to look at him, which is pretty much why Esme is locked away. However, in the Secret Garden the children come blinking out into the light and learn to enjoy life, whereas Esme is locked away for ever, or so it must seem to her.

Thank you veganknitter for sharing, I shall send on to Cross-Patch as soon as I have an address. I must get another copy to send on the next round of my book group. 


Journal Entry 21 by Decembermum from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Cross-patch has contacted me to say she's already read this so I'll be sending it on to Vespa 


Journal Entry 22 by Vespa from Weymouth, Dorset United Kingdom on Saturday, May 03, 2008

This book has not been rated.

This arrived yesterday, and I started reading it last night. I am already totally hooked and don't want to put it down 


Journal Entry 23 by Vespa from Weymouth, Dorset United Kingdom on Sunday, May 04, 2008

This book has not been rated.

whoops there goes all the stuy i was meant to be doing :-) Once I started this book I couldn't put it down. Such a sad sad story. I wanted the ending to be different, just because I felt Esme deserved more.
Just waiting for kiwiinengland's address and it will move on once more 


Journal Entry 24 by wingKiwiinEnglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Sunday, May 18, 2008

This book has not been rated.

safely arrived at my desk in Manchester.

Thanks 


Journal Entry 25 by wingKiwiinEnglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Sunday, June 01, 2008

9 out of 10

I really enjoyed this book, and was saddened to be reminded of how little proof was needed for a man to commit a woman to a mental institute.

The way the story unfolded was well written. I am not sure that Esme would undertake her final act, but can understand the author thought she might. All the woman were stuck in stories not of their making, in relationships they didn't control - Esme in the instituion, Kitty in a marriage where she could not direct her husband, and Iris with a step brother who is self centred and wants whatever he desires.

Heathwitch had asked to be skipped so I shall send this on to the next in line.
 


Journal Entry 26 by wingKiwiinEnglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Sunday, June 08, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Posted to Anglersrest on 6 June airmail from Ireland, so hopefully won't take to long to arrive 


Journal Entry 27 by AnglersRest from Teignmouth, Devon United Kingdom on Sunday, June 22, 2008

This book has not been rated.

This was waiting for me when I returned last night from a Conference and some time in Scotland. This is one of three new rings to arrive, but should be moving easily within the month. 


Journal Entry 28 by AnglersRest from Teignmouth, Devon United Kingdom on Sunday, July 20, 2008

8 out of 10

A really thought provoking,enjoyabled and fascinating read.

Esme is a girl with ideas ahead of the times. Her behaviour is unacceptable to her close family, who decide to have her confined in a mental asylum at the young age of 16. Sixty years later the asylum is due to close. The officials of the hospital manage to track down Esme's great neice,Iris, who up until this point knew nothing of Esme's existance. Iris is both in denial of the relationship and yet fascinated in what has happened in the family, 60 years previous. Despite, feeling that Esme is not her responsibility Iris is unable to walk away from her.

I have the address for wanderingstar8, and this will be in the post on Monday 21st July. Thanks for sharing a great book. 


Journal Entry 29 by wanderingstar8 from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Just received - thanks! I have one other bookring (long overdue) which I have to read first, but I'm looking forward to getting to this one. I've heard a lot of rave reviews - but I wasn't a big fan of "After You've Gone", the only other book by O'Farrell that I've read. So this will be an interesting read. 


Journal Entry 30 by wanderingstar8 from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, July 31, 2008

4 out of 10

Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with most of the comments on this thread. I thought the book was very disappointing. I think it might have been partly to do with my expectations - I knew broadly what the story was going to be, but I was expecting it to be more about the relationship between the two women, rather than we the readers finding out about Esme's past but Iris never really understanding her relative.

The twist was certainly clever, but I thought the storytelling was curiously unimaginative - I would have loved to read about what it feels like to come out of an asylum where you've been for 60 years, to live with a young and independent woman. But I didn't think we really got that. Instead there were a lot of quite cliched scenes stitched together into an admittedly interesting story.

On its way back to Veganknitter! 


Journal Entry 31 by veganknitter from Bolton, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Monday, August 04, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Thank you everyone!

I'm glad you all enjoyed it. 




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