Tag Archives: Maggie O’Farrell

Book Review: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

This story goes back and forth between 1930s & present day Edinburgh. In the 1930s, Esme Lennox is sent away to a mental institution on account of her hysteria. Forward to present day Edinburgh where her great-niece is called upon to collect her previously unknown, great-aunt from the same instutition, which is now shutting down. This leaves her niece trying to piece together the puzzle of how she came to live in a mental institution for 60 years. It has the typical O’Farrell style of weaving together two stories from different generations. O’Farrell gives away pieces of information throughout, interweaving past and present until everything comes together in the end, with a signature twist. Set in Scotland, the backdrop adds to the mysteries that continue to unfold throughout the book. It is one of those books that only loosly ties the knot at the end, leaving it up to the reader to fill in some of the blanks. It is quite a short and easy read; it does not even have any chapters. Something that would be good for a week-end beach trip, or a long flight. Although it does not compete with The Hand that First Held Mine, it is an easy-read, quirky novel that leaves you wondering.

Vanishing Act

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell

Book Cover

Book Cover

This book, The Hand that First Held Mine, is by Maggie O’Farrell, who in my opinion is a great storyteller.
Alternating between past and present, each chapter of this book tells the story of either Lexi or Elaina. Lexi’s story is set in the 1950s-60s and Elaina’s is set in present day. Two women whom, unknown to them, share something in common (you’ll find out). The only reason I rate it 4 out of 5 stars is because I would’ve liked it to be just about the 1950s part, although that would take away from the story- the present-day part is still very good, very interesting and ties in with a twist at the end-its just a personal thing (i prefer period writings in comparison to anything contemporary).

Not only is this a beautiful story line, but there are so many themes tackled, beautiful descriptive passages and just such good writing that takes you so deep into the stories.

The way O’Farrell writes makes you feel as if you are there with Lexie. Sitting beside her. Staring at her red scarf, then looking away to see who’s just walked into the random Soho cafe. Having a cigarette with her, watching her blow smoke into the thick air. Observing the buttons on her blouse, the colour of her hair. When you put the book down you can still hear the London traffic and smell the musky air of the 1950s. The style is just so atmospheric.

It also tackles themes (though subtly- you don’t feel it as you read it which is why it’s so fantastic) such as Love, Trust and Motherhood. And such honest portrayls of each. O’Farrell doesn’t write a pretty-picture story,she just tells it the way it is.

The characters are real people. The locations are real locations- the only thing fabricated is the wonderful story and lives of these people you will grow to love so much. If you want to travel back into time- and really feel something, read this. I highly reccomend it.

Tagged , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: