I was drawn to this book because the language of the opening pages was terrific. And the title of the novel is a poignant allusion to Esme's 61 year time in an asylum. Even the way Esme taught her younger self to "disappear" was intriguing. But ultimately I was a bit disappointed by this book. I thought the inherent drama of this story would be in the present: how will Iris come to unravel the puzzle of Esme's imprisonment, what attempts will Esme reveal that she made to free herself of her predicament (oddly, I don't recall any attempts -- her fierce spirit of her youth broken so completely?). Instead much of Esme's story relates to her pre-asylum days and what led up to being committed. So we are cheated out of learning what actually happened in her days in the asylum, lessons learned about herself and the world. And in the present -- I expected to see a final scene of Esme's rage. It doesn't come. So for me the story was anticlimactic. Though I did read it with great interest because I kept hoping to get to that present day catharsis. What is the moral of the story? In some ways this reads more like a long short story than a novel. I didn't experience the transformation of the character. Esme's truer disappearance -- not just the physical disappearance from the world into an asylum -- is the disappearance of her free spirit as a woman who doesn't want to marry and who wants to choose her own destiny. That was the interesting theme for me. I wanted to see more how that disappearance happened on a day by day basis. instead, it was implied more than anything else. It's still a good book. Just not the book I thought it was going to be. That's my take on it anyway.