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Extended Audio Sample The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox Audiobook, by Maggie O’Farrell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (10,035 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Maggie O’Farrell Narrator: Anne Flosnik Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455189373
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Iris Lockhart is busy tending to the everyday business of her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment when she receives a stunning phone call. Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never even knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for over sixty years. Iris’ 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 Esme is still 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?

Weaving Esme’s tragic story together with Iris’ modern dilemmas, O’Farrell’s gothic, intricate, cross-generational tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the complex longings of women will haunt listeners long past its final page.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “O’Farrell is a very visual writer, creating dead-on images…This talent serves her well at the novel’s startling and darkly rewarding finale.”

    New York Times

  • “Radiates the kind of energy that marks a classic…Think Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Charlotte Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ or Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, stories that illuminate the suffering quietly endured by women in polite society…It’s a breathtaking, heart-breaking creation…[a] fierce, engrossing novel.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Thoughtful, warm, elegantly written and totally shocking…a fantastic read, a real page-turner.”

    Daily Express

  • “An intricate, eloquent novel of family malice, longings, and betrayal….O’Farrell maintains a high level of tension throughout, and the conclusion is devastating.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “What a haunting story is that of Esme Lennox…Anne Flosnik does an excellent job with a story that shifts time periods and is told in a range of voices…Her flow of words creates a powerful story-current that pulls the listener along inexorably. Once begun, it’s hard to turn this book off.”

    AudioFile

  • “[A] finely wrought family exposé…the psychological suspense along the way should satisfy those looking for both strong plot and characterization.”

    Library Journal

  • “The novel is brilliant in every way…Maggie O’Farrell has written a taut, fragile mystery of relationships and deception.”

    Literary Review

  • “O’Farrell’s fourth novel brilliantly illustrates her talent for gradually revealing her character’s inner lives...A gripping read with superbly crafted scenes that will blaze in the reader’s memory long after the novel is returned to the shelf.”

    Booklist

  • “This slow-building, impressionistic work amply rewards dedicated readers with a moving human drama.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • AWashington Post Book World Best Book of the Year
  • AWall Street Journal Bestseller
  • ABarnes & Noble Recommends Selection
  • AnAudioFile Earphones Awardwinner
  • AnAudie Award Finalist
  • Finalist for the Amazon Best Books of the Year

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joan | 2/6/2014

    " Interesting story idea. Good story telling- I like the mystery of figuring out what happened to Esme. The only thing that bugged me is that the ending keeps the mystery and doesn't really pull all of the ideas together into a neat package- which, I guess, was sort of the point. Life doesn't always fit into a neat package. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pam | 2/2/2014

    " Caution! Set aside several hours because you won't be able to put it down. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anita | 1/30/2014

    " Liked the story, but not the way it was written. Definitely a good conversation book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kendra Herlig | 1/28/2014

    " Wow. This was a great book! I almost gave it 5 stars... And I don't do too many 5-star ratings! t must have been very challenging for O'Farrell to write from the perspective of an Alzheimer's patient and someone who has been in a "home" for 60 years. Very well written. Interesting and heart-wrenching tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tarrington Hunter | 1/26/2014

    " One of the most tragic stories I have ever read. The ending was surprising but satisfied the vindication in me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 1/12/2014

    " Tragic story of a wasted life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melinda Metz | 1/7/2014

    " The writing was so good I wanted to read slowly and really appreciate it, but I also wanted to read fast because I was dying to find out what happened. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrienne | 1/2/2014

    " One of the most amazing books I've ever read. There is true talent in this writing. The story of Esme literally made me gasp and awe out loud. Everyone should read this book. The ending is one of the most perfect, ever. This is one of my favorites. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vanessa | 1/1/2014

    " I thought I was going to hate this book. It was a required reading for my book club. But surprisingly, it was great. I could not put it down. You'll be pleasantly surprised also. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bethann | 12/2/2013

    " This was an interesting read. I didn't care for the ending. I know what happened but it still left me hanging. There was no closer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daisy | 11/29/2013

    " Just found this book so interesting. Full of surprises. Loved how it was written and loved the characters old and young. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Grandmaof2 | 11/18/2013

    " Kept me interested to find out the answers . "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 11/5/2013

    " Loved it!!!! Enjoyed going between 2 time periods "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jocelyn | 11/5/2013

    " This book captivated me and held me right up to the end, and (my goodness!) what an end! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diana | 10/19/2013

    " The author was obviously talented with her prose, but I think that she relied too much on gimmicky plot twists and devices, rather than exploring the inner lives of her characters. That being said, it was still worth reading for some powerful scenes and imagery. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Betsey Brannen | 10/4/2013

    " I get it. I get the horrific experiences faced by Esme at the hands of her unloving parents and jealous sister. I get the split between Iris and Alex/Luke. I get the plot twist. What I do not get is the ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lemon drop | 2/18/2013

    " An excellent page turner and quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie Schoeb | 10/21/2012

    " Very interesting book and I liked the authors writing style. Not a fan of the ending at all though! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruth Vanderhart | 5/12/2012

    " Where is the line between sanity and insanity, right and wrong, acceptable and not acceptable--and who decides? O'Farrell's disturbing novel explores those questions in a moving, unforgettable story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Franki Demerle | 1/31/2012

    " Really well done! Great plot with lots of surprises, very descriptive scenes that put you right there. Hard to put down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andie | 1/9/2012

    " Different, sad, overall a good book club choice by Ms. Joanne Shervey! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hope Terris | 7/13/2011

    " I loved this book on many levels. The mixed narration, the mystery, the story of sisters. I couldn't put it down! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharon | 5/13/2011

    " Started out great, with fantastic writing and an interesting plot, but fizzled at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracy | 5/12/2011

    " Unusual, sad, horrifying, haunting.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 5/10/2011

    " this is our May selection for our Book Club--New Readers of the Purple Sage--we take a little from Zane Gray and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

    I enjoyed the two stories intertwining. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Taralee | 5/6/2011

    " I can't stop thinking about this book. I didn't want to put it down. But I still wasn't prepared for the ending. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pat | 5/2/2011

    " Sorry, Sal. Love you dearly but did not like this book. I couldn't handle the way it jumped around from Iris in current day to Esme today then Esme 60 years ago then Kitty (the bitch) then....
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 4/24/2011

    " I loved this book, the way the story was told from different points of view. It was fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patmckelvey | 4/19/2011

    " Loved it. Very satisfying in both characters and plot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 4/12/2011

    " This is a haunting story with a very dark theme. It is well written and the author does a great job of telling a complex story succintly. It is a fast read. Entertaining and thought provoking. Enjoyed it and will definitely check out some of the other books by this author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lghamilton | 4/12/2011

    " RAVE! Could not put it down - it superceded Mr. Peanut, when Mr. Peanut got a little boggy in the middle. "

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About the Author

Maggie O’Farrell is the author of four previous novels, including the acclaimed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and After You’d Gone. Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, she grew up in Wales and Scotland. She now lives in Edinburgh with her family.

About the Narrator

Anne Flosnik, a seasoned audiobook narrator, has over four hundred titles to her credit and several awards and distinctions, including three AudioFile Earphones Awards, a USA Today Recommended Listening, and the American Library Association’s Special Services to Children Award. She has twice been an Audie Award finalist. She is an accomplished actress with lead credits on stage, on television, and in commercials and voice-overs.