Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

The library book group met November 11 to discuss The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Author Maggie O'Farrell was shortlisted for the Thumping Good Read Award for a previous book of hers, which might explain why The Vanishing Act was such a fast read for me. Esme Lennox is an elderly woman whose family shut her away in Cauldstone, a women's mental institution in Edinburgh, when she was only a teenager. The book begins in the current day as the institution begins to close down and Esme's grandniece, the owner of a vintage boutique, discovers her existence.

Many women like the fictional Esme were institutionalized in the UK for reasons other than insanity.

Two different sets of discussion questions were available for the book group to ponder, here and here. (The best questions turned out to be whether or not book club members thought Esme was insane or not, and whether they were sympathetic to Kitty or not.)

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