I read this book in two days, which is quite quick for me.  But I would not say it is a completely easy read.  The story itself is very engaging but the style of the telling involves some interesting techniques, especially as the narrative progresses.  It is largely told in the first person, but the chosen first person changes and at times this can seem disjointing (it is typically done by starting a paragraph with a hyphen, not a fresh chapter).  The technique works on a number of levels though, particularly for Kitty who is suffering from Alzheimers as the story is told.  I think it is less effective when one is just piecing together the circumstances which have led to Esme Lennox "vanishing".

About half way through the book there is a great description of the way Esme actually seems to make herself "vanish" but on another level she has also "vanished" because from the age of sixteen until her seventies she has been incarcerated in an asylum.  It becomes quite apparent that she is remarkably sane under these circumstances, she explains to us all of her actions that are seen by onlookers as evidence of her being "unbalanced".

The tale is a tragic one, but for me at least the revelations towards the end of the book were really surprising, no doubt as Ms O'Farell intended.  There is a sub-plot of sorts involving Iris and her step-brother, so the tale could be seen as one all about skeletons in closets.  I loved the tales of Esme's youth, during her long stay in an institution she has relived these moments over and over again.  It seems that and her "vanishing act" are her survival skills.

I found it especially heartbreaking that her parents could so easily discard their eldest daughter, and it was impossible for me to understand how her father in particular was capable of this (no explantaion is offered, whereas we are given some sketchy insights into the mothers character and motivations).

At the end of the book I had enjoyed a good read though, and would read more of Maggie O'Farell with interest.  It is not great literature, but it is a great story and I'd place her on a par with Ann Fine in my estimation, which I think is praise indeed.


  1. sometimes its better to have a good story than high literature ;)

    ~kay~ on