Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell

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?

I enjoyed this but definitely expected something more. This book was far too short to capture the full issue of institutionalizing women who were too "unconventional." I enjoyed reading about Esme and Kitty but didn't care at all about the modern story. I felt that Kate Morton could have written a better novel on this subject as she manages the dual narratives very well, and in much more depth. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy this story, just that it wasn't developed enough and had so much more in it that could have been explored. I felt a bit let down as I'd heard so many good things about this novel. I would be interested in reading more books in this subject, but feel that there just isn't enough to this particular story. 7/10

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