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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.

Critic Reviews

  • 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 listeners say about The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • AD
  • 01-06-21

Slow but interesting

Took me a bit to get into this book. I could not tell the characters apart and with the story flowing between the past and present, I found it hard to keep it straight. The story is interesting overall, albeit slow.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting story, good narrator but…

The narrator has a good voice and reads well but because the perspectives change, and eras change, there needs to be some pauses where there aren’t. It gets a bit confusing as to who’s speaking when.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings....

I truly have mixed feelings about this story. The reader was very good and I loved the accents that she used. The story was quite compelling and I enjoyed it for about 3/4 of the book. The issues I have are with the ending actually. I don't want to give any spoilers so its difficult to share the exact problem I have. I will absolutely try another story by this writer, she writes beautifully and I was completely drawn into the world of Esme Lennox and Iris, Kitty and all the drama that surrounds them, but the ending is just so...indifferent. That's the word that comes to mind, at least for me. I will probably listen to this story again at some point just to make sure it isn't me. Again, it is an interesting story and I did truly care about what was happening with the characters, but the ending left something missing, at least for me.