The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

  • by Maggie O'Farrell
  • Narrated by Daniela Nardini
  • 6 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Edinburgh in the 1930s. The Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional, and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Even Kitty, Esme's beloved sister, is beginning to lose patience. Something will have to be done. Years later, in the same city, a young woman named Iris Lockhart receives a letter informing her that she has a great aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released. Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox, and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, is too adrift in her own memories to answer Iris' questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family's history?


What the Critics Say

"O'Farrell's imaginative territory is one you return to with delight." (The Times)
"In one touching scene Esme, sitting in the car with Iris, attempting to process her sudden emergence into the world, pretends to fall asleep because 'she needs to think'. Iris reaches over and turns off the radio; this is 'the single nicest act that Esme has witnessed in a long time. It almost makes her cry'." (The Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

One of the best readings I have heard

What made the experience of listening to The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox the most enjoyable?

Daniella Nardini's characterisation and interpretation

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox?

The most memorable moments were when Esme was removed to the hospital. The extraordinary unfairness of the law and the brutal conditions in mental hospitals at the time were graphically and movingly described

What does Daniella Nardini bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The voices of the different characters, especially Kitty, which I think I would have found it hard to track through reading only

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

I have been listening to talking books for over 15 years and this is one of the best readings I have heard. I was moved to tears.

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- Anna


This certainly was the equivalent of a 'page turner' I could not stop listening. I love Maggie O'Farrel's writing, and was gripped by this latest novel. That said, I did feel that the ending of this novel was a little light weight.....I felt it ended just when it had really begun....Not, in my view, her best work, but still extremely well written and engaging.
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- Karen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 25-10-2006
  • Publisher: Headline Audiobooks