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The Vanishing Act: A Novel Hardcover – September 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393062929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062922
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The best stories change you. The Vanishing Act is that kind of tale" Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus "A strange poetic and ghostly story... There are echoes of C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe but otherwise there is a rare freshness to her storytelling. She relies on using sophisticated but sparse language to create a magical world and story about the grown-up themes of love, loss and - intriguingly - philosophy that can be read and enjoyed by both grown-ups and young adults. And not a vampire in sight" Daily Mail "Works just as well as a one-dimensional story as it does a thought provoking fable as the beautifully written, haunting set pieces testify" -- Ani Johnson Bookbag "It is abundant in terms of atmosphere and the beautiful innocence of childhood" PA Review - South Wales Argus "A perfectly poised, fable-like tale of loss, written with delightful whimsy, deep empathy and a beguiling sense of innocence" Graeme Base --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mette Jakobsen was born in Denmark in 1964. She holds degrees in philosophy and creative writing and is the author of several plays. The Vanishing Act is her first novel. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

More About the Author

Mette Jakobsen was born in Denmark in 1964. She holds degrees in philosophy and creative writing and is the author of several plays. The Vanishing Act is her first novel. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Customer Reviews

Would recommend to anyone who enjoys fairy-tales and magical settings.
avid_reader
The Vanishing Act is a well written and captivating story with mixture of fantasy and philosophy.
Pilar Arsenec
As for the plot and story itself, it moves slowly which isn't a bad thing.
Kimberly C

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Pilar Arsenec on September 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Vanishing Act is a well written and captivating story with mixture of fantasy and philosophy. This story is like a beautiful painting whose brush strokes are poetic and descriptive.

The central theme is about a twelve year old girl named Minou and the disappearance of her mother. One day her mother puts on her best shoes, takes her big black umbrella and walks out the house never to be seen again.

Everyone thinks she is dead, except for Minou. She does not believe her mother is dead, but will return one day. She keeps a journal, building a case with the reasons why she believes her mother is still alive.

While Minou was walking on the beach, she comes across the body of a dead boy. She runs to tell her father. Her father comes and carries the dead boy to their home. He decides to put the dead boy on the bed in Minou's mother's blue room until the ship arrives in three days. In the interim, he opens the window to make sure the boy's body remains frozen.

Minou's father is a philosopher from the descendant of Descartes searching for the absolute truth. Both Minou and her father struggle to find answers and figure out what happened.

Her father believes the key to finding the absolute truth is somehow connected to the dead boy's body. He thinks he will get the answer (as does Minou) by sitting with him for three days until the ship arrives.

Minou and her father live on a small, remote island surrounded by the ocean. I get the impression the island is in the middle of nowhere. The only people living on this isolated island is Minou, her papa, a Priest, Boxman the magician and his dog, No Name.

You never quite know where any of them come from (except for Minou) and/or how they wound up on the island.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rita Arens on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Every once in a while there's a book that I love with such gusto I know other people will throw it across the room, and this is one of those books. It's not a novel; it's a story, like a fairy tale or fable or myth. It has morbid elements and fanciful elements and it doesn't tie itself up in a bow. It's a story about a tiny island with seventeen trees on which only five people and a dog live, and then one leaves, Minou's mama. And then it's a tiny island with seventeen trees and four people, and a dog, and occasionally a visitor. And it has sentences like this:

"Uncle nodded, still looking pale, and then told me that he used to be scared of ghosts.
'Aren't you scared anymore?' I asked.
'I started looking straight at them,' he said. 'Then they stopped coming so close.'"

If you read the story straight-up, you'll probably be confused and annoyed, because not that much happens. If you read it to learn something about life, I think you might love it. I certainly do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Winters on March 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoy books that are a little "different" in story line and character development. I read the statement by Erin Morgenstern, author of "The Night Circus" (a book I highly enjoyed and recommend) and felt that if she was enthralled by this book, that I would probably enjoy it as well. I did enjoy the unusual story and the unusual characters, but, for me, it lacked the enchantment of "The Night Circus" and therefore, I give it only three stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blanusa on February 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps I'm too literal, I just didn't get this book, why did the dead boy smell like oranges?
Why was it snowing all the time? Why did these people live on this island? Inquiring minds.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Liz W. on November 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Minou, a little girl, lives on a tiny, nameless island. The only other inhabitants of the island are her philosopher father (who claims to descend from Descartes), their friend Boxman (who makes sawing-people-in-half boxes for magicians on the mainland), and Priest, the island's pretzel-baking spiritual leader who leads their congregation of three. Well, technically, there's a fourth member, if you think to count No-Name, the resident dog. And there is a fifth presence, too: Minou's mother, who went for a walk on the beach several months ago and hasn't been seen since. Only Minou believes her mother is still alive--whisked away, perhaps, by magic! But when a boy's dead body is found tumbling in the surf, the reality of life and death forces Minou into a pensive state, and causes her to reflect on past events leading up to her mother's disappearance. Short but sweet, The Vanishing Act is a charming, poetic tale of parable-like simplicity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Black Plum on November 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It was Erin Morgenstern's blurb (she's the author of The Night Circus, one of my favorite books) which got me interested in this book. This is what she says: "This book is a precious thing. I want to keep it in a painted box with a raven feather and sea-polished stones, taking it out when I feel the need to visit Minou on her island again. The best stories change you. I am not the same after The Vanishing Act as I was before."

I don't think I loved it that much, but I certainly did enjoy it, and it's a very enchanting book. It's the story of Minou, who lives on a tiny snow-covered island with her philosopher Papa. The other inhabitants of the island are Boxman the magician, No-Name, his dog, and Priest the priest. A year before the story begins, Minou's mother disappeared. Minou knows that she isn't dead, despite her shoe being found washed up. Then one day, Minou finds a dead boy washed up on the beach. Her father lays him in her mother's room. Can Minou's mother's disappearance be explained by him? Minou will not accept that her mother is dead and using Descartes, is determined to find out what happened.

I thought this was a very interesting one, with an interesting premise. I love stories like this; however I didn't love this one, though I really liked it. I thought Minou's parents were interesting: her father is a philosopher-type, and he's interested in proofing everything with logic and reason, whereas her mother is more interested in the imagination. Two very different people, and then you have Minou, who tends more to reasoning and logic, but also the imagination.

This book definitely feels like a fable, and I'm very glad that I got it from W.W. Norton. I didn't love the writing style, but it was sweet and simple.
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