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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox | [Maggie O'Farrell]

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Iris Lockhart is busy tending to the everyday business of her vintage clothing shop and her complicated love affairs when she receives a stunning phone call. Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never even knew existed, is being released from a psychiatric hospital where she has been locked away for over 60 years.
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Publisher's Summary

Iris Lockhart is busy tending to the everyday business of her vintage clothing shop and her complicated love affairs when she receives a stunning phone call. Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never even knew existed, is being released from a psychiatric hospital where she has been locked away for over 60 years.

Esme has been labeled harmless, sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But why has her family never mentioned her, and what is the secret or her virtually wiped-out past? If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

Weaving Esme's tragic story together with Iris's modern dilemmas, O'Farrell's intricate cross-generational tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the complex longings of women will haunt readers long past its final page.

©2006 Maggie O'Farrell; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Nominee, 2008 Audie Award, Fiction

"[A]n intricate, eloquent novel of family malice, longings, and betrayal....O'Farrell maintains a high level of tension throughout, and the conclusion is devastating." (Publishers Weekly)
"O'Farrell's fourth novel brilliantly illustrates her talent for gradually revealing her characters' inner lives....A gripping read with superbly crafted scenes that will blaze in the reader's memory long after the novel is returned to the shelf." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (152 )
5 star
 (35)
4 star
 (59)
3 star
 (43)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (6)
Overall
4.0 (60 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
 (23)
3 star
 (16)
2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (59 )
5 star
 (23)
4 star
 (19)
3 star
 (15)
2 star
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1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jessica 06-19-08
    Jessica 06-19-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
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    17
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
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    Overall
    "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox"

    An amazing book. The many threads come together brilliantly at the end. I found the narration helpful in distinguishing the character's voices; unlike the previous reviewer, I felt that each voice was distinct. Of course, since the printed version supplies no such clues, it puts us a little ahead of the game. The language is both precise and beautiful, the characters fascinating, and the end result stunning.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Texas 11-12-07
    Amazon Customer Texas 11-12-07 Member Since 2003

    anne

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    101
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "a poor recording ruined the experience"

    This is a complex mystery told from the changing point of view of 3 different characters throughout the course of the book. Sadly the recording makes no pause, no change of voice, and no identification of the character delivering any given portion of the story. The listener can figure it out by paying very careful attention but this would have been an excellent book had it been produced in a way to make the differentiation between the characters clearer.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Le Center, MN, USA 04-23-09
    Julie Le Center, MN, USA 04-23-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    117
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    200
    45
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    "Haunting"

    This story stuck with me - a cautionary tale of what can happen to the "odd" child in a family full of secrets and betrayals.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 11-17-11
    Anne 11-17-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    0
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    Story
    "engaging story"

    Unlike other reviewers, I had no problem at all telling which characters were telling the story at which points. Although there is no voice differentiation, the context immediately gives you clues as to whom is speaking. The story was engaging and kept me interested until the end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Brady, LCSW Palo Alto, CA United States 09-12-09
    Susan Brady, LCSW Palo Alto, CA United States 09-12-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    106
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
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    Overall
    "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox"

    The reader was excellent, but the story is framed as being revolutionary, but is came off more as a soap oprera.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Genevieve Metamora, IL, United States 09-11-14
    Genevieve Metamora, IL, United States 09-11-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A shocking surprise in the ending..."
    What made the experience of listening to The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox the most enjoyable?

    Trying to anticipate what was coming next was not an option here...most resolutions were quite a surprise!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox?

    Some of Esme's antics, her different way of observing life's common acts as well as the details...was she possibly autistic?


    Which character – as performed by Anne Flosnik – was your favorite?

    Certainly the two main female characters...I've always enjoyed Anne Flosnik, her ability to alter the accents; following her narrations was how I found this great book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Thank goodness I can listen to it in my car! Otherwise I might have had to play hookie from work to finish it.


    Any additional comments?

    Part of the conclusion you can figure out yourself fairly far into the story, but the shocking ending, while not in the least anticipated, makes you say, "You go, Girl!"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Lake Mary, FL, United States 10-29-12
    Michele Lake Mary, FL, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I did not enjoy this audible book"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I did not like the narrator's voice. I did not enjoy the story.


    What could Maggie O'Farrell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It was not my style


    What didn’t you like about Anne Flosnik’s performance?

    Her voice


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth F. Cork Santa Rosa Beach, FL 09-24-12
    Elizabeth F. Cork Santa Rosa Beach, FL 09-24-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
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    10
    2
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    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Scarier than Stephen King"
    Where does The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's first-rate


    What does Anne Flosnik bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I've never read anything quite like it


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was horrifying but with supernatural monsters. The monsters are all too human. The family dynamics are frightening but very real.


    Any additional comments?

    If you can stand the emotional trauma, it's a book that shouldn't be missed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gwendolyn L. Mallory Spokane WA USA 09-20-12
    Gwendolyn L. Mallory Spokane WA USA 09-20-12 Member Since 2012

    Bookworm

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    151
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing ending"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed the storyline and the narration was quite good, but found the end very disappointing.


    What was most disappointing about Maggie O'Farrell’s story?

    The end was quite abrupt


    What aspect of Anne Flosnik’s performance would you have changed?

    Nothing


    Could you see The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sheila Mulgrave, Australia 04-10-12
    sheila Mulgrave, Australia 04-10-12 Member Since 2010

    A reader who loves to sew, which makes Audible ideal. No special trends but always on the lookout for recommended titles. Appreciate good stories not the graphic details which seem to be the trend.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What can I say"

    It took some getting into. But then I couldn't stop, and when finished I had to read again.
    Recommended to me, and I have given as a gift and recommeneded to friends.
    Can be as deep as you want, you think you have it, then it all changes.
    To me a good book is if you think about it afterwards. I can't stop thinking about Esme.
    I do have a different slant on the outcome than my friends but its how you look at it.
    Wonderful will be searching for more Maggie O'Farrell.
    Persevere if confused at the start. It all fits into place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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