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?
© and (P)2006 Maggie O'Farrell
"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)
I loved everything about this audiobook. The story is remarkable - full of tragedy, love, guilt and jealousy. The performance by Nardini was fantastic, transitioning seamlessly between characters. I didn't expect the ending at all.
Well worth a listen, I think.
"I didn't like it"
When this book ended I thought there was some kind of mistake, so I listened to the last part again....how unsatisfactory. It's like the author just ran out of ideas and quit! I was waiting for it to get started.
"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.
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.
"Glad to be modern"
This is a woman's book. I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but any woman would be gripped by the appalling and sad story of Esme. This book is a little slow to start, but once the characters are established, it is fascinating to compare the lives of women born 50 years apart, and Daniela Nardini is excellent at delivering the changing voices of the different generations. The story unfolds slowly through snippets of conversation until everything falls into place. Clever and thought-provoking.
"Brilliant and unforgettable"
Beautifully read and performed - really added to the story in a way that the print version would not have.
The plot was very clever and intricate, with lots of unexpected twists and turns!
Her voice could be both calm and gentle for one character, as well as angry, accusatory, distraught... She was amazing.
I found it hard to stop listening - didn't want to tear myself away but the presence of young children tend to prevent me from listening in one sitting!
One of the best audiobooks we have bought in a long time. Will definitely be buying more from Maggie O'Farrell.
"I cannot rate it highly enough!"
I have not read the print version, but I can say that Daniella Nardini really does an amazing job reading the audio book. The voices she uses transport you back in time and then to the present day. Her portrayal of someone in the midst of dementia is so believable too.
The gentle suspense throughout. You just know something is coming, but it is in a gentle way, not obvious like a detective story. Not a romance, but has romantic elements affecting the plotlines too.
There is part of the book where the two main characters independently come to realise what relationship they are to each other. It is very poignant.
I definitely could have listened to this all the way through in one go had my family allowed me to. I have to admit that the first few minutes didn't grab me, but after that, I was gripped.
The sense of injustice I felt for the characters was so great that it felt as though they were real people. I think this book will live with me for a while!
"Excellent, so much so, I read it twice!"
Totally absorbing and brilliantly read by Daniella. So good I suggested it for the book club and everyone else loved it too.
I was absorbed in the story quite quickly, the change in characters and time and place are very well done, and you can so easily visualise the situations. Its one I will be listening to again sometime.
A great audio story as much of the book is dialogue in different voices. Sensitive and an easy listen - exposure to the ease with which women in particular could be locked away in institutions in the early part of this century. Good contrasts with life as was, particularly for middle class gals and modern day life for women. thoroughly enjoyed it.
"Heartbreaking story of a life denied"
What is the worst thing you can do to another human being? Esme experiences a number of horrors made worse still by the fact they have been inflicted by her family and the people who are supposed to love her. In this short book, Maggie O'Farrell manages to weave an intimate and intriguing story of three family generations and the secrets that lurk in their background. The characters are vividly written and their stories are gripping and believable. This is an emotional book, but the pathos is not overdone and the ending is stark and believable. Daniella Nardini reads this beautifully and the production makes use of clever techniques to convey real and imagined voices. I don't believe anybody can ever achieve true closure but the conclusion was as close as it can probably ever get.
"Fabulous story - so emotional"
I loved the narration - the distinction between times and characters was very well done!
The complexity of Esme's character was beautifully and sensitively portrayed
Great diction and the distinction between characters was very well done
It was as though she was never there
One of my favourite books!
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