Monday, May 14, 2018

BOOK NOOK: THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

When I was in school, probably about eighth grade, we read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. What a creepy story: a woman whose doctor and husband make her "rest" all the time until she goes mad.

I had no idea that this short story was an early work of feminist literature, and back in the Dark Ages of my youth, I don't think we even knew the word "feminism."

Women were (and some still think are) too emotional and not in control of themselves. The patriarchy sometimes demanded that they be locked up because they were diagnosed with hysteria.

I found a literary descendant to The Yellow Wallpaper's protagonist in The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell.



Iris, who "isn't used to dealing with things that are . . . untouched," receives a call about Euphemia Lennox––a name she doesn't recognize. She's shocked to learn that this woman is her grandmother's sister, who has been locked up in a mental institution for 60 years. Now that the hospital is closing, Iris is expected to take responsibility for Esme, as the stranger prefers to be called.

No one can tell Iris anything about Esme. Iris's grandmother has Alzheimer's, her mother never heard of Esme, and her father is dead. What's to be done with Esme, and why has she been in the hospital all these years?

O'Farrell moves deftly between Iris's present with Esme and Esme's memories of her youth as mysteries unfold. I enjoyed the style of this novel very much and found it difficult to put down; thus, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval.

Another book I hope to read soon is by our good friend Susan Flett Swidersky, who blogs at I Think; Therefore, I Yam. Her new book is



Congratulations, Susan!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

29 comments:

  1. I remember reading The Yellow Wallpaper for an English class in college. The Vanishing Act sounds intriguing.

    Congrats to Susan on her new book, too. :)

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    1. When you read it, was it discussed as a feminist work?

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    2. Oh yes! Hysterical women and all that.

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    3. Now we're hysterically funny.

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  2. I too hope to get to Susan's latest book soon.
    While at university our psychology class went to the local mental hospital. There were three elderly patients. Who had been put in the hospital due to 'inconvenient pregnancies'. And had become institutionalised and stayed. Hiss and spit.

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  3. I read The Yellow Wallpaper. The Vanishing Act sounds very intriguing and I can't wait to read Susan's book!

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    1. I think we all want to read Susan's book. She's such a good writer.

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  4. "The Vanishing Act" sounds like a really good one. Thanks for the heads-up.

    And thanks for the shout-out, too. :)

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  5. Vanishing Act sounds intriguing! I'll put that one on my very long list of books to read.

    So nice of you to feature Susan's new book. Another one on the list!

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    1. My TBR list goes on and on and on . . .

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  6. THE YELLOW WALLPAPER sounds like a version of Hitchcock's Gaslight. "Gaslighting" is now a verb. I still am amazed they taught The Yellow Wallpaper to eight graders.

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    1. Yes, I've seen gaslighting used as a verb. I like it. Yellow Wallpaper isn't really gaslighting. The doctor and the husband think they are taking good care of the woman. When we read it in school, I don't think we discussed it much.

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  7. I read Susan's book--it's GREAT!! I'm going to look up the other ones.

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    1. I just ordered The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox!!

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  8. The vanishing Act of Esme Lennox sounds so wonderful.
    I need to order Susan's book !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. I'll be getting Susan's book--you can count on it.

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  9. I don’t know The Yellow Wallpaper. Sounds intriguing.

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    1. It's an historic work and it's very creepy.

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  10. We women have such a sobering history and yet are so lucky for all the freedoms we do have today.

    Susan's book cover is beautiful. I'm sure the story is too.

    Love.

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    1. We have more freedom now. I agree. But we're still pushed down by the patriarchy.

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  11. Looks good. Thanks for the review. I love recommendations!

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  12. Thanks for the review. It sounds like an interesting story.

    It's been a while since I've been online. I missed you!

    Love,
    Legalmist

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