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Kell

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O' Farrell

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I just finished this last night, so this is the first I've been on the thread since setting it up, so as to avoid any spoilers!

 

there seemed to be something inevitable about events throughout the book. I found I could see exactly what was going to happen from very early on, but for once it didn't spoil my enjoyment of it at all, as I desperately wanted to hear the story from the point of view of Esme, Kitty and Iris. I also found it very interesting that it was all written third person for Iris and Esme, yet first person for Kitty, who's thoughts were muddled and kept jumping about due to her dementia.

 

I also found it quite ironic that although Esme was locked away for 60 years, Kitty lost more than 30 years of her memories and was locked away in her mind...

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I also found it quite ironic that although Esme was locked away for 60 years, Kitty lost more than 30 years of her memories and was locked away in her mind...

 

Y'know, I never realised that! Great point!

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There's also the fact that although Esme was physically locked away, her mind was free and she seemed to wander off into her own world at the drop of a hat - the reverse of Kitty in her later life. Actually, with Esme being confined when she's young, and Kitty being confined when she's old, that makes them exact opposites!

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How did you all feel about Kitty.. did your feelings change during the book?

 

Initially I liked her and then felt sorry for her for being conformist to the demands of the society she was part of. My feelings changed when she did not support her sister and then to dislike when she did nothing to help her sister in the asylum apart from take her baby.

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How did you all feel about Kitty.. did your feelings change during the book?
I felt very sorry for her - at the start she's always the one who behaves, but doesn't get the attention because Esme "misbehaves", then boy she wants herself is more attracted to her younger sister (albeit in an unhealthy way), so she doesn't get what she wants in love. She marries a man who seems indifferent to any kind of physical relationship with his wife (which must be very frustrating, even if she doesn't know exactly what she's missing), she's denied the chance of having her own baby and so takes on her sister's, and through all this, she never sees her sister at all. She's quite a tragic figure, even if a bit selfish at times, I think. Esme, on the other hand, seems to be a more emotionally strong person - almost like she was just out of her time (or ahead of her time, even!) and that's reflected in what she sees in Iris.

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I felt sorry for Kitty, the time she lived in was quite conformist and she just wanted to keep her parents and grandmother happy, I felt really bad for her about not having children but once she took Esme's baby, I found myself pitying her because she was just so desperate for a child, and here was a opportunity (for lack of a better word) to have a child, but she betrayed her own sister at the same time, it would have been better if Kitty had went back and taken Esme away from that place but at the same time, it would not be easier, because Esme would return and the family would have to face her, when they they were a great job of forgetting about their daughter, which was unfair.

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Well I really enjoyed this book and although I have only got around to posting here I finished it very quickly. It is the kind of book you just need to keep reading.

 

 

 

To begin with I did not guess about the baby. I had thought that the baby she would not let go of was Hugo. It soon became clear however as there were some hints along the way.

 

 

I was never all that keen on Kitty right from the beginning.

She was always so goody-goody. Her relationship with Iris was a bit strange too. She liked Iris when she was little but seemed to like her less when she grew up. Perhaps she reminded her too much of Esme. I felt sorry that she married a man, who did not care for her, but I think helping to put her sister away and allowing it to go on for so long was pretty despicable.

However I was quite shocked that things ended as they did, although on reflection I don

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I thought about Kitty being locked away in her mind, but the thought soon trailed off when I knew what she was going to do. She was so close to Esme when they were children, and then she steals her child, her family and her life..

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I felt sorry for Kitty, the time she lived in was quite conformist and she just wanted to keep her parents and grandmother happy, I felt really bad for her about not having children but once she took Esme's baby, I found myself pitying her because she was just so desperate for a child, and here was a opportunity (for lack of a better word) to have a child, but she betrayed her own sister at the same time, it would have been better if Kitty had went back and taken Esme away from that place but at the same time, it would not be easier, because Esme would return and the family would have to face her, when they they were a great job of forgetting about their daughter, which was unfair.

 

I felt that Kitty was just trying to conform also. I think you have to bear in mind the time in which it was set - nowadays we are far more able to articulate our emotions and we are also encouraged to make choices of our own. Neither Kitty nor Esme had that luxury - things were pretty much planned for them. Also they were both left very ignorant about life etc and relied on 'professionals' to help and with what we know now we can see how misguided and at times patriarchial (sp - it's years since I've written that word!) that 'advice' was then.

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I can't really add anything else to this thread that is any different. I enjoyed the book and although it took me a while to work a out the 'baby' thing I certainly did not see the ending coming.

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We may think that restraining people with straps is immoral, but what they do now instead is just drug them up,which is worse because it messes with the brain. These places should not exist, there are far better ways of dealing with people.

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We may think that restraining people with straps is immoral, but what they do now instead is just drug them up,which is worse because it messes with the brain. These places should not exist, there are far better ways of dealing with people.

 

You are right Icecream, what they do now, is just a nicer (if that makes sense) way of controlling patients. I went to a mental health exhibition a good few years ago now and it was very interesting, showing how they dealt with phobias, I have to admit, some of it was terrifying x

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It may seem nicer but they don't even know the extent of damage/change to the brain some of these drugs have. they are messing with identity and also free will. Playing God.

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It may seem nicer but they don't even know the extent of damage/change to the brain some of these drugs have. they are messing with identity and also free will. Playing God.

 

It must cause damage in some way, I was trying to say before, that now, they probably see medication as nicer option compared to strapping someone to a bed, but it is not that nicer.

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I only collected this book from the library on Tuesday and I finished it last night. I was hooked into the interweaving story lines right from the start and I just couldn't put it down. I found it easy to read and once I became familiar with the three main characters I could easily following the character/time changes and they worked smoothly for me. I think I guessed fairly early on the various 'revelations' but it didn't spoil it for me and although the end was surprising it was somehow acceptable.

 

This morning my mind was still full of the story and I think I may have to wait a day or two before I can begin to read another book. I shall certainly look for other books by Maggie O'Farrell:)

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And I'm older than you and I didn't like it either!

 

But it would be a very boring world if we all liked the same things!

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How much did I love this book?!

 

I know I'm really late (better late than never, eh...) but I spent so long concentrating on AS stuff, and it's so nice to read for pleasure again!

 

It was great. I did guess that the baby was Esme's, and I also wondered whether Esme was going to hurt, or even kill Kitty at the end - when she asked to be left alone with her - but it didn't spoil it at all and I was glad that the ending happened the way it did, even though Esme didn't live 'happily ever after' with Lily like I imagined she would.

 

Definitely a 8½/10 for me! :roll:

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Just finished this book - wow, I loved it. It's the first Maggie O'Farrell book I have read, but I am now on a mission to track down and read her others. I know my library has After You'd Gone, so I'm looking forward to picking that up.

 

I recently commented on a thread in General Discussions about books that make you cry, that I hadn't really come across one that did. This one comes as close as I can imagine a book could come to making me cry.

 

How utterly tragic was this story? :lol: I'm not very good at guessing which way a story goes, so I was quite surprised by everything that happened. Like others here, I too thought that

the baby Esme wouldn't let go of, was Hugo.

 

 

As silly as it sounds, I never connected Kitty's interspersed narrative with her dementia (:(); I just took it as the style in which the book was written. I loved the way Kitty's thoughts would just pop up in the book, and kind of trail off. They left tantalising parts of the story just hanging there, and really had me wondering what had happened in the past. Once it was revealed, I didn't hate Kitty for what she did. I think she was too young to know the consequences of her actions, and by the time she did realise what she had done, she had managed to distance herself and put it behind her to the extent that it was just easy for her to ignore, and move on.

 

Can someone clarify the ending for me? I'm not too good at reading hints, and need it said in black and white (otherwise I end up wondering if I've misinterpreted it!).

Did Esme kill Kitty in the nursing home?

That's the impression I got, though I had to re-read the last page several times to get it.

 

Another thing that I'm wondering about; what was Esme so desperately looking for in her little tin box of possessions, when Iris came to take her away? Esme says it's "A length of...cloth, green...maybe wool." Any idea what this is?

Maybe the blanket that was wrapped around her baby when he was born? Or something from before she was admitted into care?

I was hoping this would be resolved by the end of the book, because it seemed important, but if it was, I missed it. :lol:

 

Aside from a fabulous story, I thought the book was so well-written. Very detailed and descriptive, but without being overly wordy. I will definitely be re-reading this one, and it has shot up to the top of my "Favourite books of all time" list. :exc:

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Ooh, such enthuiasm.. I love it! :lol:

Yes, I believe she did kill her in the nursing home. I'm sure the cloth was explained, but I can't remember off-hand.

 

 

I started with After You'd Gone, which I loved. Esme Lennox had a slightly 'simpler' feel to it, if that makes sense. I do hope you enjoy the others.. I'm eagerly awaiting her next one. :lol:

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Thanks for clarifying, Michelle. :lol: I thought that was the case, but since it was never baldly stated, I wasn't sure.

 

I was quite surprised at how young Maggie O'Farrell is. I was just reading about her in the Featured Author section, and she said After You'd Gone was her mid-twenties book, while this one was her mid-thirties book. I'll be interested to see if there is a great difference in writing style.

 

Edit:

Just re-read the part where Esme has the baby, and the blanket he was wrapped in was green. So I guess that's what she was frantically looking for.

 

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I read this recently, and really enjoyed it. It's not the first Maggie O'Farrell book I've read, but the best one so far. It's so sad (and I think that unfortunately highly realistic) that someone can be erased out of a family like that, and it was certainly a book that made me think. The only parts I didn't really like were the grandmother's streams of consciousness, which were obviously all jumbled up.

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