The seated girl is dressed in something pale, Esme forgets what, the other in a dark red frock that doesn’t suit her. She has lost her gloves. It begins here. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it begins earlier…
Maggie O’Farrell’s haunting and delicious novel, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, is a tale of absences, ghosts, secrets, and the feminine mystique.
Nobody knows where Esme Lennox had gone. In fact, nobody knows of her existence. Certainly not Iris Lockhart, who gets a call from Cauldstone Hospital informing her that her great-aunt Esme is being released after sixty-one years of confinement. This is a startling revelation that she starts to question until she sees a glimmer of her father in Esme’s face. Meanwhile, a secret is buried deep in the recesses of the muddled brain of Kitty, Esme’s sister, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is now living in an institution.
Secrets, buried memories, and repressed emotions are told in broken and stifled sentences as a result of the horrors that Esme has gone through. The narrative told through Kitty’s point of view, however, is equally broken but far more confused. It is Iris who fills in the gaps in such a way that the story does not become melodramatic. Instead, the message just sort of washes over you and leaves you mesmerized.
I admire the way the author handled the narratives. O’Farrell showed complete control in the way the story was written. She has created unforgettable characters that displayed unbelievable strength despite being utterly damaged.
This is a heartbreaking yet beautiful tale that deserves utmost recognition and respect.
This was a post by Hanna, who has shed a tear for Esme Lennox.