The Art of Vanishing
A young woman chafing at the confines of marriage confronts the high cost of craving freedom and adventureAt twenty-five, as her wedding date approached, Laura Smith began to feel trapped. Not by her fiance, who shared her appetite for adventure, but by the unsettling idea that it was hard to be at once married and free.Laura wanted her life to be different. She wanted her marriage to be different. And she found in the strangely captivating story of another restless young woman determined to live without constraints both an enticement and a challenge. Barbara Newhall Follett was a free-spirited trailblazer who published her first novel at 11, enlisted as a deck hand on a boat bound for the south China seas at 15 and was one of the first women to hike the Appalachian trail. Then in December 1939, when she was not much older than Laura, she walked out of her apartment on a quiet tree-lined street in Brookline, leaving behind a fraying marriage, and vanished without a trace. Obsessed by her story, Laura set off to find out what had happened.The Art of Vanishing is a riveting mystery and a piercing exploration of marriage and convention that asks deep and uncomfortable questions: Why do we give up on our childhood dreams? Is marriage a golden noose? Must we find ourselves in the same row houses with Pottery Barn lamps telling our kids to behave? Searingly honest and written with a raw intensity, it will challenge you to rethink your most intimate decisions and may just upend your life.

The Art of Vanishing Details

TitleThe Art of Vanishing
Author
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780399563584
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Travel, Biography Memoir, Mystery

The Art of Vanishing Review

  • Cristine Mermaid
    January 1, 1970
    This cover and title appealed to me when I was putting new releases out so I read the blurb and I felt great hope that this was going to be a book that I would relate to. The reviews/rating vary wildly and now that I've read it, I understand why. Either, you feel this way, you 'get' the restlessness, the longing for something more, the feeling of suffocating from the typical American life or you don't. I get it. I can relate to her feelings of growing up and seeing society having one day after a This cover and title appealed to me when I was putting new releases out so I read the blurb and I felt great hope that this was going to be a book that I would relate to. The reviews/rating vary wildly and now that I've read it, I understand why. Either, you feel this way, you 'get' the restlessness, the longing for something more, the feeling of suffocating from the typical American life or you don't. I get it. I can relate to her feelings of growing up and seeing society having one day after another that looks the same and is a cycle of work, chores, work , chores, work, chores, and being horrified at the idea of it. I noticed some of the reviewers felt insulted that she wanted nothing to do with the lifestyle that they lived and loved but I don't know why, she didn't say there was anything wrong with it, just that it's not for her. I understand it. It resonated deeply with me on so many levels , many of which are too personal for me to even discuss in a public forum. I actually felt that I could have/should have written such a book because her words articulated much of my own experiences and feelings. It was incredibly reassuring because certainly if I am this way and so is she, then there are others. Her complete lack of interest in domesticity or a life of routine , her not understanding why her friends longed for these things that seemed like a trap, her yearnings and longings, I could have written these same words.The story goes between her musings of her own life and marriage and the story of Barbara Follett, a child prodigy born in 1914 , who vanished. Barbara was a writer and her books were about living the extraordinary life, not being restricted by the times and society she lived in, about becoming part of the sea and belonging to no one. She vanished and no one has been able to discover what became of her. Laura, the author, becomes borderline obsessed with solving the mystery and I found both Barbara's story and Laura's trying to uncover her mysteries to be utterly compelling. I can not think of the last time a book resonated with me this strongly. I have so frequently been disappointed in the last few years with memoirs that fill me with hope that i will be able to relate but then let me down. This did not. This book 'got' me. This is the book that finally convinced me to start writing again.
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely a case of it's me, not you, just not connecting with it, decided to move on.
  • Dana Blazsek
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars-- Giving this book a rating took me 24 hours after finishing it to do. Laura Smith is restless. She is young and married, yet feels trapped. While she is grappling with this, she works on researching Barbara Follett who disappeared at a young age. As she tells the story of Follett, Laura tells her story. One that is full of adventure in travels, work, and even her marriage. While I enjoyed both aspects of the story, I just did not feel that they gelled together too much. Though there w 3.5 stars-- Giving this book a rating took me 24 hours after finishing it to do. Laura Smith is restless. She is young and married, yet feels trapped. While she is grappling with this, she works on researching Barbara Follett who disappeared at a young age. As she tells the story of Follett, Laura tells her story. One that is full of adventure in travels, work, and even her marriage. While I enjoyed both aspects of the story, I just did not feel that they gelled together too much. Though there were a couple similarities between Barbara and Laura, not enough that their stories should be told in parallel story lines.
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  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    Laura Smith became rather obsessed with the life of Barbara Follet, a young woman who walked away from her family in 1939 and was never heard from again. Barbara had published a novel at age 11 and become a sailor at 15. All through THE ART OF VANISHING, Laura correlates their 2 lives as Linda begins to question restraints her marriage seems to impose. I enjoyed reading this book which I received for an honest opinion. I'd rate THE ART OF VANISHING 3.5.
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful, gripping, and provoking book. Smith skillfully interweaves the story of Barbara with her own; she had me always wondering what would happen next in each plot line, always wanting more. The prose is beautiful; you get the sense that each sentence was carefully constructed. The amount of research and work Smith put toward finding out what happened to Barbara and understanding her life is impressive. While I can understand how some readers might not want to come along on that journey, A beautiful, gripping, and provoking book. Smith skillfully interweaves the story of Barbara with her own; she had me always wondering what would happen next in each plot line, always wanting more. The prose is beautiful; you get the sense that each sentence was carefully constructed. The amount of research and work Smith put toward finding out what happened to Barbara and understanding her life is impressive. While I can understand how some readers might not want to come along on that journey, I loved how—especially later in the book—Smith talked about all her research. It made me feel as if I were right by her side every step of the way, trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Barbara. She brought that same immediacy to her own storyline. It was often gut-wrenching to be there in real time with her as she and P.J. navigated the choppy waters of an open relationship. But without that immediacy the book would have been much less powerful. It feels like she held nothing back—which undoubtedly made the book stronger.
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    The Art of Vanishing, which tells the parallel stories of a historic disappearance and the author's own experiences with love and travel, is utterly fascinating. Smith has woven together both histories incredibly well, and I could hardly put it down. The perfect book for a long flight.
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  • D
    January 1, 1970
    Read the Wikipedia page on Barbara Follett instead of this bloated memoir. It's fine for the first several chapters, but descends into tedium when Smith starts wanting an open marriage. The author is so annoying, whinging about problems she literally created herself, I was rooting for her husband to walk out.The only intriguing aspect is when the author searches extensively for a figure in Follett's life but comes up empty-handed, then turns it over to a librarian and receives the precise detail Read the Wikipedia page on Barbara Follett instead of this bloated memoir. It's fine for the first several chapters, but descends into tedium when Smith starts wanting an open marriage. The author is so annoying, whinging about problems she literally created herself, I was rooting for her husband to walk out.The only intriguing aspect is when the author searches extensively for a figure in Follett's life but comes up empty-handed, then turns it over to a librarian and receives the precise details within a couple of days. Honestly, I'd rather have read a book about the librarian.
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  • Fran Fisher
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting and well-written, and yet. . .For all the research and soul-searching, there are no conclusions or even very good theories that might lead to conclusions. The missing is not found, the unstable continues to wobble. Enjoyable to read, unsatisfying to finish. I would like to see the author try again.
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  • Bree Hill
    January 1, 1970
    (Listened to this on audio from the library) been making my way through it the past couple of days. This is one of those books I went into expecting to love. I love memoirs by women and adding a woman who lives with wanderlust is the icing on the cake for me! I love travel memoirs. It also, although nonfiction, has one of my favorite tropes..women separated by time and one is searching for the other in some way or their lives are parallel in some way. This one missed the mark for me though. The (Listened to this on audio from the library) been making my way through it the past couple of days. This is one of those books I went into expecting to love. I love memoirs by women and adding a woman who lives with wanderlust is the icing on the cake for me! I love travel memoirs. It also, although nonfiction, has one of my favorite tropes..women separated by time and one is searching for the other in some way or their lives are parallel in some way. This one missed the mark for me though. The author is this restless young woman trying to figure things out and becomes interested..infatuated..obsessed with this woman Barbara who disappeared years ago. GREAT..this is a great recipe for a story, but it just kind of fell flat for me. Maybe I wanted more, something different.
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  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Reads like a first book yes, but a very skillful examination nonetheless of marriage, relationships and wanting to be your own person while with someone else. I very much look forward to what Laura Smith does next. This writer has a very bright future ahead of her.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    2.5, if I could. Will write a review after our book club meeting.
  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    I had really high hopes for this book, but it never seemed to really come together for me. I will say that Barbara Newhall Follett's story was fascinating and well-written, as was the author's investigation into what happened to her. The author's own memoir, however, threaded throughout this investigation felt forced into Barbara's narrative. It read like two books tangled together.
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  • Maryka Biaggio
    January 1, 1970
    Laura Smith has written a captivating memoir, one that interweaves the story of her new marriage with that of child genius Barbara Follett, who mysteriously vanished at age 25 after the breakup of her marriage. In her retelling Smith reflects on the nature of commitment, the desire for independence, and the temptations of wanderlust. An effective and unusual memoir!
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    "How could one family, one life lived in one place ever satisfy?"A suspenseful book about two women's wanderlust, told over a century. A mystery is unfolding that drags the reader through the pages, both in the past--centered on Barbara Follett a child prodigy who vanishes from a marriage at 25--and in the present through Laura's memoirs about writing this book in her own marriage around the same age. It is a very quick read.Fundamentally, this is a book about desire to live more than one life. "How could one family, one life lived in one place ever satisfy?"A suspenseful book about two women's wanderlust, told over a century. A mystery is unfolding that drags the reader through the pages, both in the past--centered on Barbara Follett a child prodigy who vanishes from a marriage at 25--and in the present through Laura's memoirs about writing this book in her own marriage around the same age. It is a very quick read.Fundamentally, this is a book about desire to live more than one life. Who hasn't wondered about the roads not taken, the parallel lives unlived? Smith gives voice to these questions as she investigates Barbara's life and tries out other lives along the way. She finds, perhaps unsurprisingly, how challenging it is to live more than one life in practice.It is a very honest take on marriage, particularly about how it binds women to a more narrow set of options, even as their own preferences change over time. "At some point, love crosses over from being the buoy that lifts you up to the tide that drags you under."The parts about Barbara's family of origin are particularly fascinating tales the nuclear family's disfunction and its harmful consequences. "Wilson’s [her father's] love was complicated. In one of the early baby book entries, he refers to himself as Barbara’s “most unsparing critic.” She was one year old."I imagine that this book is not as well rated as it deserves to be because it is about women stretching the boundaries of their small, domestic lives. That makes many in our patriarchal society uncomfortable--not least other women. And even if some of the decisions the author makes have difficult consequences, I do not judge her, instead valuing her honest reportage. We tend to judge women more harshly for making self-oriented and experimental choices. I won't join in that trend. This is a very good book.--"The coming years would prove that Wilson had missed the essential lesson of his own book: you cannot run away when the thing you are running from is yourself. The sea is inside you.""I realized that one of the things I had lost was a story: the simple story of marriage, with clean lines and a sensible narrative arc. I always imagined this told in the form of a toast at a golden anniversary.""I was still young, in that sweet spot where I looked forward to the parts of life that were ahead of me, but felt a little more confident about my place in the world.""We move toward one another and we move away. We draw near, we retreat. We start over again. Perhaps the chase has only just begun."On the fragility of life and fame: "Wanting, having plans, believing that you will live and possibly live well suddenly seemed such a vulnerable notion. We are guaranteed none of it. The barrier between fortune and ruin, life and death is unnervingly small. I was chilled by the scene: the piercing sound of the sirens, the police cars’ funereal procession, the hopelessly small poster. It conveyed both a sense of emergency—A girl has disappeared right from our midst! Did you notice?—and the sense that we could do nothing about it. Her story was already over."
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  • Hayley DeRoche
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED where this book was going for the first half. Barbara Follett's life is fascinating. But, this is a memoir, not a biography. And so, it must reflect back to Laura Smith. The problem is that Follett is much more interesting than Smith. It was a real page-turner, but I found myself skimming Laura Smith's memoir parts to get back to the Follett mystery, and found the ending (understandably) unsatisfying. (view spoiler)[ Even if the Follett mystery were definitively solved, I felt like the l I LOVED where this book was going for the first half. Barbara Follett's life is fascinating. But, this is a memoir, not a biography. And so, it must reflect back to Laura Smith. The problem is that Follett is much more interesting than Smith. It was a real page-turner, but I found myself skimming Laura Smith's memoir parts to get back to the Follett mystery, and found the ending (understandably) unsatisfying. (view spoiler)[ Even if the Follett mystery were definitively solved, I felt like the last five chapters were the equivalent of a marathon runner slowly becoming winded and simply ending up out of breath, unable to continue, and left having to look down the road wondering where the race ended. And perhaps that's simply how it has to be with such a mystery.But more than anything, I found Smith's softening towards Wilson in the end just....so unbearably sad and frustrating, because Wilson to me is the least tragic figure here. A man who abandons wife and children again and again and AGAIN is hard to feel much for, even Smith's bedraggled form of sympathy/empathy for him given her own experience with trying to live outside the confining lines of a marriage. Wilson's an asshole, full-stop, I simply cannot. And this is also where I struggled with Smith's weaving of her life with that of the lives of the Folletts. There are similarities, but also staggering differences (like the agreeing consent of all parties in the relationships being a large one here, despite P.J.'s initial introduction and then inability to view Smith's actions in the same light as the actions he also wanted to take). (hide spoiler)]They say the only two people who really know what goes on in a marriage are the people in it. Maybe the same can be said for all the parties in this story.
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the style and content of this book and especially the structure: alternating chapters of Barbara and the author's very personal experiences.After a long discussion of Barbara, Chapter Seven begins: "We flew to Phuket..." Wait! What? Phuket has an airport!!? I was hooked by this switch since when I was in Phuket many years ago and stayed out at Bateau Ferrengi ("Beach/Boat of the Strangers") and everything was 60 cents: a meal, a bed even a pipe of opium and there certainly wasn't an airp I loved the style and content of this book and especially the structure: alternating chapters of Barbara and the author's very personal experiences.After a long discussion of Barbara, Chapter Seven begins: "We flew to Phuket..." Wait! What? Phuket has an airport!!? I was hooked by this switch since when I was in Phuket many years ago and stayed out at Bateau Ferrengi ("Beach/Boat of the Strangers") and everything was 60 cents: a meal, a bed even a pipe of opium and there certainly wasn't an airport between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.My speculations on what happened to Barbara after she disappeared:1. her husband killed her and disposed of the remains.2. Suicide.3. Accident/fatal injury.Initially, it was open and shut since her husband had motive but then I changed my mind to suicide (Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and other women writers committed suicide). But, it could have been any of these causes of death.I read the book in two sittings and at certain points I felt I was far getting too much information about both Barbara and about the author's personal life. Nevertheless, I read every line (which is unusual for me - I read at least five hours a day).I'm surprised I never heard of this precocious child/author who looked at life as a time for adventure and novelty. I also see Laura Smith, the author, as having a similar world-view and she was just the right woman to write this remarkable book.
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  • Devon H
    January 1, 1970
    Smith writes an intricately woven story of her own life and marriage juxtaposed with that of her research subject Barbara Newhall Follet. Although listed as a memoir, Smith combines Follet's biography in with her own. In large part, that has to do with Smith's obsession over Barbara, and how involved her own life became in that of Barbara's. The set up for this memoir unfolded a bit strangely, as it read as very heavy on the Follet biography side at the beginning, gradually shifting towards bein Smith writes an intricately woven story of her own life and marriage juxtaposed with that of her research subject Barbara Newhall Follet. Although listed as a memoir, Smith combines Follet's biography in with her own. In large part, that has to do with Smith's obsession over Barbara, and how involved her own life became in that of Barbara's. The set up for this memoir unfolded a bit strangely, as it read as very heavy on the Follet biography side at the beginning, gradually shifting towards being more so about Smith's own life by the end. I liked how she compared herself to Follet throughout the story, and found it fascinating when those around her compared and contrasted Smith's romantic life with Follet's as well. However, I wasn't keen on learning as much as I did about Barbara Follet. I can see that Smith was at times obsessed and generally fascinated with this missing person's story, constantly hunting for answers. It almost feels as though Follet was such a large part of Smith's life that of course she couldn't be left out, but did I need to know as much as I learned? Follet certainly lived an interesting life, but I wasn't invested in her as a reader, unfortunately. Smith's writing is eloquent, and the story flowed like the tide of a wave, pulling back and forth, one way and then another. This dramatic push and pull felt like a careful dance, and one that I think Smith ultimately succeeded in sharing effectively. 
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I was intrigued by the story of Barbara Newhall Follett when I read an excerpt from this book, and so got the book. The questions posed were ones I am invested in: restlessness, how to make marriage fit in a modern world, the dissatisfaction with doing the same conventional things over and over again for decades.In the end, while this book was a quick read, I found myself bored by the author. The story of Barbara Follett in the beginning drew me in, and I enjoyed the first third of the book. But I was intrigued by the story of Barbara Newhall Follett when I read an excerpt from this book, and so got the book. The questions posed were ones I am invested in: restlessness, how to make marriage fit in a modern world, the dissatisfaction with doing the same conventional things over and over again for decades.In the end, while this book was a quick read, I found myself bored by the author. The story of Barbara Follett in the beginning drew me in, and I enjoyed the first third of the book. But the conceit that I should somehow be interested in Laura Smith and her relatively mundane, privileged life and marriage bored me. At first, because it was driving her to research Follett, it was fine. But by the middle of the book, when Smith has veered off into an open marriage and justifies writing about it at too much length because she feels it's somehow linked to Follett's quest for freedom, she lost me. I just didn't find Smith herself very interesting or engaging, and only kept reading because I was curious to see if she found out more about Follett. (Spoiler alert: She didn't.) Part of the problem with this book is that it’s a bit of a bait and switch. It starts as history with the story of Barbara Follett, framed with some personal details on why the author is writing about Follett. Almost halfway through, though, it becomes a memoir of Smith’s marriage, and she spends too much time there. I understand what she was trying to knit together, but in the end it didn’t feel as though she’d quite managed it. She poses some intriguing questions, but doesn’t provide many profound thoughts on them.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Everything about this book spoke to me: wanderlust, disappearing restless women, the author's first name, the perfect-shade-of-blue jacket... I had to read this book!In the end, it left me a tad disappointed. Overall, I liked it, but feel the author pushed her own story into Barbara's much more fascinating story where it didn't belong. There really is no comparison between Barbara and Laura other than they both were restless at times. But they were restless about way different things! Barbara wa Everything about this book spoke to me: wanderlust, disappearing restless women, the author's first name, the perfect-shade-of-blue jacket... I had to read this book!In the end, it left me a tad disappointed. Overall, I liked it, but feel the author pushed her own story into Barbara's much more fascinating story where it didn't belong. There really is no comparison between Barbara and Laura other than they both were restless at times. But they were restless about way different things! Barbara wanted to live an adventurous life at sea. Laura wanted to cheat on her husband. Totally different.I honestly think she told both stories in parallel like this because she simply did not have enough information on Barbara's mysterious disappearance to fill a whole book. I also felt that Laura was half-heartedly researching and writing about Barbara's story. It seemed that Laura was too preoccupied with her marital problems to truly focus on telling Barbara's story. And that's a shame because it was way more interesting!
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story of a young woman who searches for a former child prodigy who disappears in the late 1930's without a trace. Barbara Follett was a published writer by age 9 and went on numerous adventures on both land and sea. She was an Amelia Earhart type of modern woman who did not wish to be confined to a woman's role of wife and mother. Yet, she met a man she ended up marrying only to be shattered when he decided to leave their marriage. The author, investigating for her post-graduate work, This is a story of a young woman who searches for a former child prodigy who disappears in the late 1930's without a trace. Barbara Follett was a published writer by age 9 and went on numerous adventures on both land and sea. She was an Amelia Earhart type of modern woman who did not wish to be confined to a woman's role of wife and mother. Yet, she met a man she ended up marrying only to be shattered when he decided to leave their marriage. The author, investigating for her post-graduate work, sees correlation between Barbara's predicament and her own struggles with marriage and freedom.I found Barbara's story compelling,but was not enamoured with the author's deep self examination of her marriage and fidelity issues. I found her somewhat childish navel gazing quite tedious.
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  • Juanita
    January 1, 1970
    The author wraps her own story about her longing for freedom with a real-life story of Barbara a woman who vanishes without a trace in the 1930s. The author describes living in a world where she felt she should get married, buy a house, have kids and be satisfied. She decided to get married but not follow the "rules" after that. Barbara is a child-prodigy who goes on adventures and disappears after a few years of marriage. Everyone in her life wonders whether she was dead or whether she simply d The author wraps her own story about her longing for freedom with a real-life story of Barbara a woman who vanishes without a trace in the 1930s. The author describes living in a world where she felt she should get married, buy a house, have kids and be satisfied. She decided to get married but not follow the "rules" after that. Barbara is a child-prodigy who goes on adventures and disappears after a few years of marriage. Everyone in her life wonders whether she was dead or whether she simply disappeared into the world.The author writes in an open and honest way about her struggles, her search for Barbara, and her contemplations about freedom as a white woman in North American society.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I was attracted by the wanderlust part in the title... But I abandoned the book half way in,which rarely happens to me. I'm just not the type to abandon a book. Even writing a review for this book is considered a waste of my time. So a short one, then moving on in real life... Which the author fails to appreciate. The first 2/3 of the book is a biography of Barbara Follett- a person that I have no interest in. Both Follett and the author were Peter Pan wannabes. I'm in my 50s, happily enjoying m I was attracted by the wanderlust part in the title... But I abandoned the book half way in,which rarely happens to me. I'm just not the type to abandon a book. Even writing a review for this book is considered a waste of my time. So a short one, then moving on in real life... Which the author fails to appreciate. The first 2/3 of the book is a biography of Barbara Follett- a person that I have no interest in. Both Follett and the author were Peter Pan wannabes. I'm in my 50s, happily enjoying my life, reading, spending time with friends, traveling, and learning new things. In other words- I grew up.... And I love where I am.
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  • MaryJo Hansen
    January 1, 1970
    the book juxtaposes two stories,: the author's marriage story and the story of Barbara Follett, a woman who lived in the 1920-30s and authored a well-read novel when she was 14, and vanished when she was 26. The author is doing research on Barbara's story, trying to find out where she went and why. At the same time she is telling the story of her life. I liked the historical story and the research the author did to uncover the facts about Barbara's life, the author's life was also interesting bu the book juxtaposes two stories,: the author's marriage story and the story of Barbara Follett, a woman who lived in the 1920-30s and authored a well-read novel when she was 14, and vanished when she was 26. The author is doing research on Barbara's story, trying to find out where she went and why. At the same time she is telling the story of her life. I liked the historical story and the research the author did to uncover the facts about Barbara's life, the author's life was also interesting but abit too much on endless self-examination. I guess I did not understand why she was unhappy when she had a good life.
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  • Dee
    January 1, 1970
    I have such mixed feelings about this book. I found the story of Barbara Newell Follett fascinating. The author’s description of her research into Follett’s life was also great. What didn’t quite work for me was the author’s attempt to parallel her relationship issues with Follett’s life. The attempted connections seemed forced. All in all, I’m glad I read this book because it introduced me to Follett and her works.3.5 stars
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  • Hope
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir reminded me a bit of "Spinster" by Kate Bolick. It is a story of intertwining lives where the researcher's life starts to reflect, or perhaps always reflected, that of the person being researched. "The Art of Vanishing" is about learning to listen to yourself, but to also understand that you may not always be telling yourself the right things. It is definitely not a book that has neat tied-up endings and a classic Bildungsroman narrative ark, however, it does proffer honest and heart This memoir reminded me a bit of "Spinster" by Kate Bolick. It is a story of intertwining lives where the researcher's life starts to reflect, or perhaps always reflected, that of the person being researched. "The Art of Vanishing" is about learning to listen to yourself, but to also understand that you may not always be telling yourself the right things. It is definitely not a book that has neat tied-up endings and a classic Bildungsroman narrative ark, however, it does proffer honest and heart-felt contemplation about love, marriage, womanhood, identity, travel, and getting a bit lost.
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  • Nathan Ingraham
    January 1, 1970
    While I lost the thread slightly in the middle of the book, overall this was an enjoyable and interesting read. I’ve never heard of Barbara Follett before, and her story and subsequent disappearance make for an interesting, true mystery. And the author’s hunt for more info makes for a pretty engaging second story. Some of the details from her personal didn’t quite resonate with me, but as someone who isn’t all that interested in conforming to the “standard” expectations of what adult life looks While I lost the thread slightly in the middle of the book, overall this was an enjoyable and interesting read. I’ve never heard of Barbara Follett before, and her story and subsequent disappearance make for an interesting, true mystery. And the author’s hunt for more info makes for a pretty engaging second story. Some of the details from her personal didn’t quite resonate with me, but as someone who isn’t all that interested in conforming to the “standard” expectations of what adult life looks like, it’s nice to read about the challenges and upsides of people who have the same feelings. Also, plotting and topics aside, the author really knows how to write some beautiful sentences.
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  • JZ
    January 1, 1970
    Only Laura Smith could have written this book. That's what I love about it. Who hasn't wondered what it would be like, to flaunt convention and do what your inner spirit desires? I admire and enjoy both stories, walking in those memories again, as she shares hers and Barbara's. Delightful.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    I liked taking a look at how others live their lives, and how they perceive other people live their lives. We can never know what a person goes through, day in and day out, and by what means they make their way through life. This is a mental exercise trying to answer that very question.
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  • Booktart
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. I didn't love this but I enjoyed it. Barbara's story read at times like a page turning mystery, though I was hoping for a bit more of a conclusion from it. It took me a while to get into this overall, but it was worth it and thought provoking.
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  • Barbpie
    January 1, 1970
    Laura Smith wove her own story into the story of Barbara Newhall Follett, a child prodigy who disappeared in December 1939. The book started slow and I nearly quit it, but once it picked up steam, I finished it in an afternoon.
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