The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox Review
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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox tells the story of what happens to a 16-year-old girl when she defies the norms defined by society. It’s the story of a girl who lived in a time when women were locked away for almost any reason—in this case, an unconventional woman who refuses to fit into the domestic role that society and her family have set out for her.

Iris Lockhart has the usual problems of a single woman: family, relationships (including a weird relationship with her stepbrother), et cetera. One day, Iris receives a phone call, informing her that a great aunt she never knew existed—since her grandmother claimed to be an only child—is being released from a mental hospital where she resided for 60 years. The hospital wants Iris to come and get her aunt Esme because the hospital is closing down.

Understandably, Iris is a little nervous about meeting this strange woman. When Iris discovers that Esme has nowhere to go, she takes her in, and the story unfolds. Family secrets abound, and shocking information comes to light, leaving Iris to realize that she never really knew her family.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a well written novel; the story has impact, and the subject matter is intriguing, dealing as it does with sex, insanity, and family secrets. Set in Scotland, the story is told from various points of view—including that of Kitty, Esme’s sister and Iris’s Alzheimer-afflicted grandmother—and some readers might find it confusing. Personally, I’m not a big fan of having to flip back and forth in time to put together a story; I think it leaves things subject to some vagueness.

This novel has been described as modern gothic, so if you like Daphne du Maurier and other writers of that ilk, you’ll probably enjoy The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. But since I’m not a fan of the genre—or of the book’s method of story telling—the novel as a whole didn’t exactly rock my world.

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