Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

About the book

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.
Iris’s 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 she’s still basically 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?

Reviewed by Museum Book Group:

This clever story uses the interaction between the characters and its effect upon them, of Esme being incarcerated for sixty years. This book caused much lively discussion. we remembered the closing of the asylums and the reason for many old ladies being patients was that they were socially inconvenient.

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