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?More
"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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One of the best readings I have heard
Daniella Nardini's characterisation and interpretation
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
The voices of the different characters, especially Kitty, which I think I would have found it hard to track through reading only
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.