The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

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9780156033671: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Maggie O'Farrell's captivating and critically acclaimed gothic tale of family secrets and the irrepressible freedom that truth brings

 

Chic and independent, Iris Lockhart is tending to her vintage-clothing shop in Edinburgh (and evading her married boyfriend) when she 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 years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world—but she's still basically a stranger, a family member hidden away who will surely bring secrets with her when she leaves the ward. Moving expertly among the voices of Iris, Kitty, and Esme herself, Maggie O'Farrell reveals the story of Esme's tragic and haunting absence.

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From the Back Cover:

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year

"I found this actually unputdownable, written with a gripping dramatic insidiousness reminiscent of classic writers like Rebecca West and Daphne Du Maurier." --Ali Smith, author of The Accidental

Esme Lennox is a dreamy child, an odd, bookish young woman, the kind of girl who stares and listens and won’t flirt with boys at dances. And then, in the space of a moment, Esme Lennox is gone.

Years later, a stunning phone call breaks the silence at Iris Lockhart’s vintage clothing shop: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital after more than sixty years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, sure to bring life-altering secrets when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

"Haunting. O'Farrell is a feminist avenging angel who wields the modern Gothic like a gleaming sword." – The Boston Globe

"Think Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Charlotte Gilman's ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ or Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea . . . It's a breathtaking, heart-breaking creation . . . In O'Farrell's fierce, engrossing novel, the crimes of the past rear up with surprising vengeance." – The Washington Post Book World

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of three previous novels, including her acclaimed debut, After You'd Gone. Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, Maggie grew up in Wales and Scotland. She now lives in Edinburgh.

 

Visit www.HarcourtBooks.com/EsmeLennox.

 

Discussion guide available at www.HarcourtBooks.com.

From the Inside Flap:

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.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. 

Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

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.

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