Page Turners – August 2022 review

The Page Turners’ book for August was ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox‘ by Maggie O’Farrell. This novel was published in 2006 but was new to most of the group.

In the 1930s it was relatively simple for an upper-class husband or father to consign a troublesome wife or daughter to a psychiatric hospital and never speak of them again within the family. This is what happened to Esme when, after a troubled childhood, she rebelled against the expectations of society, damaging her family’s reputation and her elder sister’s marriage prospects. The book opens some sixty years later when the hospital is closing and her great-niece is asked to take responsibility for a relative she has never heard of. The story is told in several time frames, exploring Esme’s past as well as what happens when she leaves the hospital. It is also told from several different points of view as we explore the relationships of Esme, her sister Kitty and her great-niece Iris.

Whilst the book is not a true story, it is based on real events and led to some interesting discussion about society. All members enjoyed the book, although some found the style challenging as information is gradually drip-fed to the reader about what actually happened. At least one member has been moved to explore further works by this author.

As always, discussion of the book led on to further topics from our families to politics and the world was well and truly sorted out! It was good to welcome a new member bringing new perspectives to the group and we look forward to next month’s discussions.

Deborah Wallis, Convenor