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Elizabeth is Missing

Emma Healey

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Penguin

Published : 2015

Copyright : Emma Healey 2014

ISBN-10 : PB 0-241-96818-6
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-241-96818-5

Publisher's Write-Up

Meet Maud.

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn't remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable - or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.

But there's one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

Because somewhere in Maud's damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.

Everyone, except Maud…

'A compelling mystery that capture the experience of Maud, a highly memorable elderly woman losing her memory.'

Sunday Express

'The novel is both a gripping detective yarn and a haunting depiction of mental illness, but also more poignant and blackly comic than you might expect from that description... perhaps Healey's greatest achievement is the flawless voice she creates for Maud.'

The Observer
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (300415) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
I was intrigued by the premise of this story, that an elderly lady with dementia knows that her friend is missing and sets out to find her, but cannot remember what she has found out. A bit like an English version of the film Memento without the tattoos or the twist. Maud is a very sympathetic character, in a place that we all dread, not being able to remember the small things that allow us to function as independent individuals. She goes to the local shop and cannot remember what she needs so she buys the same things. Over and over. Her dementia is such that to maintain her independence she is visited daily by her daughter as well as home carers.

She used to volunteer in the Charity shop, with her friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth likes ugly pottery and she has collected a lot of it. Maud knows that Elizabeth is missing, but she does not know where she has gone or when she went. She makes notes for herself, and goes to her house. She calls Elizabeth’s son and tells the police but no-one takes her seriously.

Whilst we are reading Maud’s story, there is a parallel story from 1946. Maud’s sister Sukie left her husband and was not seen again. Maud was devastated, she adored Sukie, and the mystery was never solved. Before the second story really gets going, probably about a third of the way into the book, I was not sure how it was all going to work. Maud’s dementia deteriorates as we read her story; you can feel her world fracturing as she tries so hard to hold onto the things that she can remember.

It is sensitively written and the author deals with a tough subject with grace and empathy. Even though Maud’s present day story was becoming more harrowing, her recollections of 1946 were clear and when the narrative returned to the present, you could see what she was talking about, although to the people around Maud it was dislocated and nonsensical.

I really enjoyed the way that it was all worked out, it was clever, beautifully drawn and a surprising and sympathetic ending. I liked the way that the generations of women were described and the historical details that made it all so well anchored. To anyone with any experience of working with people with dementia, it all made perfect sense. To anyone with no experience, this offers a window into a world familiar but dislocated. A truly wonderful, original piece of writing.
Chrissi (30th April 2015)

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