Title: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
Author: Maggie O'Farrell
Publisher: Mariner Books
Source: Personal purchase
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 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 you long past its final page.
My first meeting with Maggie O'Farrell was with Instructions for a Heatwave. Afterwards, I went into a "I must read everything she writes" mode. This mode is still dragging on even though it's taking a bit of time, obviously, for me to go through all her books. In addition to Instructions for a Heatwave, The Vanishing of Esme Lennox, as well, has left me in awe of O'Farrell. She writes about such tragic situations so beautifully that your body and brain can't decide whether you should cry for the characters' sadness or for the way the words come together so beautifully.
Here's how the story goes: Iris, who lives in Edinburgh, gets a phone call from a mental hospital that's on verge of being shut down. She's told that she needs to go pick up her aunt Esme Lennox, a woman whom she's never even heard of. At first, she doesn't want to bring her into her on home but then she has to. The story of Iris goes back and forth between Esme Lennox and her sister (therefore, Iris's mother) Kitty as we find out the secrets the family holds and how Esme ended up in a mental hospital.
The story is told from different characters' points of view. Especially when Esme Lennox is telling the story, we see clearly how her mind just comes and goes. O'Farrell tells stories with beautiful words, alright, but she also makes her readers live every single moment as if they're own. I am indeed even more excited to read more of her work.