Haunting Fiction


Just finished “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox,” Maggie O’Farrell, Harcourt Books, 2006, recommended by daughter-in-law and wife.

Books like these are forever in the memory.  Haunting and wonderfully written, O”Farrell tells the story of a girl sent to a mental institution for 61 years because she didn’t fit in to her family’s idea of what a girl should be and how she should act.  It is the story of an older sister who benefits from her younger sister’s lifetime punishment for being different.

The author’s inspiration begins with the quotes preceding page 1, quotes that made me think not only of how fitting they were to the story, but how much they evoke the constant tension surrounding our politics these days.  I recommend the second of the quotes:

“I couldn’t have my happiness made out of a wrong – an unfairness – to somebody else… What sort of a life could we build on such foundations?”   Edith Wharton

We would do well to avoid basing our well-being on the backs of those less well-off.

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