Summary (from the back cover):
In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.
A gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will haunt you long past its final page.
I hadn't read a book so well-written and gripping for such a long time. While The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox isn't perfect, it is indeed amazing.
Maggie O'Farrell writes in the vein of many of my favorite writers, and she masters a subtle prose that kept reminding me of Muriel Spark. It feels refreshing not to be told everything that happens, not to be held by the hand and guided carefully through the story, but to witness the plot unravel by itself. Actually, scratch that. To witness the different plot lines unravel and become one and the same, to be unable to stop the train-wreck, which you know from early on is going to finally happen. It was really difficult to make myself stop reading.
Maggie O'Farrell doesn't shy away from thorny issues and weaves a compelling story (thriller? mystery? what is this exactly?) around them. She questions sanity and madness, specially regarding the different views on 'women madness' over time. She also questions love and jealousy and family bonds. And keeps from offering easy answers.
So go read this book now. It is that good.
Verdict: 5/5 - loved it