The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

Readers who like short novels may be drawn to Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. This relatively short and very readable novel is set in Scotland.  The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox delivers plenty of suspense as the story unfolds. Essentially it is a family story — part mystery, part drama  — centered on the related lives of three women: Iris, who owns a vintage clothing shop and is involved in a relationship with a married man; Kitty, her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimers and living in a care home; and Esme, the great aunt that Iris had never heard of until she gets a call from an asylum where Esme has been an inmate for more than 60 years.

Family secrets spill in a thoughtful and sensitive cleverly woven story which also explores some deeper themes such as how identity is transferred across generations. “We are all, Esme decides, just vessels through which identities pass: we are lent features, gestures, habits, then we hand them on. Nothing is our own.”

Maggie O’Farrell has a gift for creating believable, human characters and drawing the reader into their stories. In my opinion, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is one of her best novels to date.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell was first published in 2006. eBook published by Headline Publishing, 2009. eISBN 9780755372263.