Good, sweet lord above. Do not read this if you are even slightly sad (the picture above is all you will need for this reading experience… and remember that’s a TWIN PACK of the man-size tissues… actually you may need bottled water to replenish your fluid levels). Having said that, make sure at some point you do read this. I cannot describe to you how much of a brilliant author Maggie O’Farrell is – as soon as I finished her newest book Instructions for a Heatwave, I went straight for this title, recommended to me by my colleague, Rach. No word of a lie, I read this from start to finish in one go – reading while I ate, brushed my teeth, got ready for bed and got into bed.
As I say, this is incredibly sad, so be aware, but please make sure you read it. The premise is Iris receives a letter from a psychiatric unit telling her that her great-aunt Esme Lennox is to be released. But Iris has never heard of Esme, so what happened all those years ago, and why has Iris never heard of her great-aunt? There is a fantastic sense of loss that oozes from this novel, as strands of plot-line from ‘now’ and ‘then’ are weaved expertly together to form the story. O’Farrell does a great job of giving her characters a real soul; I just loved it. This is a really gripping read and honestly so well written I can’t even say. It’s tense, haunting, heart breaking and ultimately brilliant. All praise O’Farrell.
Here is the blurb as usual:
"Edinburgh in the 1930's. The Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Something will have to be done.
Years later, a young woman named Iris Lockheart receives a letter informing her that she has a great-aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released.
Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris's questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family's history?
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a stunning depiction of a life stolen, and reclaimed."