Tag Archives: set in India and Scotland

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Thoughts by Maggie O’Farrell, Blackstone Audio, 7 hours 18 minutes

Challenge: none

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction; Sisters

Type/Source: Tradeback / Purchased at Half Price Books, I think

What It’s About: Told in flashbacks and from the perspective of three characters: Esme – the youngest sister, Kitty – the eldest, and the granddaughter Iris. Esme has been locked away since she was 16 and now 60+ years later, while Kitty is suffering from dementia in the nursing home. Then there is Iris, the only living relative who owns a vintage clothes shop and pines for her married step-brother. It gets even more complicated when Iris is contacted about Esme when her facility is being shut down. Iris has never heard of Esme and didn’t realize Kitty was not an only child.

Thoughts: Despite the showing of audiobooks this month, I’m still not at my former levels of audio-focus. That or this one just starts confusing, gets muddled and wilding messy in the middle, and might also suffer from cultural unknowns. (Like, what WAS that red cord?! What that MEAN? Do I really know how it ended? I have made assumptions that work for my interpretation of the story, but this would be a terrific one to discuss. With a Scottish person!)

But boy do I love the feisty old ladies. Both of them had feistiness and secrets and regrets and ambition. No excuses for Kitty, but Esme and Iris could have benefited from asking and expressing and having a true exchange of what was going on. Of course, the plot wouldn’t have thickened if they were able to truly share and connect.

She has no idea that her hands and eyes and the tilt of her head, and the fall of her hair, belong to Esme’s mother.

We are all just vessels thru which identities pass. We are lent features, gestures, habits and then we hand them on. Nothing is our own.

We begin in the world as anagrams of our antecedents.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned; a fabulous story idea and not quite convincingly executed. Though a fun ride anyway, I think this one is likely better in print. The stories just bounce between narrator and time with no introduction — it was hard to tell when those changes occurred.

I read this because… I think it was an Audible freebie by an author who has a new book out that looks phenomenal, The Marriage Portrait, which follows a successful Hamnet. Possibly a writer that will go on my “must-read-everything” list.

 

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