Elizabeth is Missing is the debut novel of Emma Healey and what a debut it is! Elizabeth is Missing is a page turner for sure being unique in that it is psychologically suspenseful but moving and emotional at the same time. It captured my interest from the very first page and held it there to the very end!
Our main character Maud is in her eighties and suffering dementia. Maud lives alone but her daughter Helen visits often and she has care givers but as the dementia progresses this is likely to change. For now Maud writes everything down to remind her of things she really needs to remember like not buying yet another can of peaches but many of her notes remind her yet again that her friend Elizabeth is missing. Maud can’t seem to convince anyone that this is a problem and Helen just keeps telling her that Elizabeth isn’t missing but Maud knows this isn’t true because she’s not at her house when she goes there.
Of all the things Maud can’t remember anymore including many times not recognizing her own daughter and granddaughter the one thing dominant in her mind is that Elizabeth is missing and Maud needs to find out where she’s gone. Elizabeth was the one person who still made her comfortable with who she was becoming and that made her even more determined to find her. As she sets out to find Elizabeth Maud’s memories drift back to the past when she was young and her sister Sukey disappeared. In the beginning it seems unlikely that these two separate stories have anything to do with one another but as the end draws near they intertwine and all becomes much clearer. To say anymore would give away the plot of this story and I just can’t do that to anyone wanting to read it because it is so worth reading for yourself!
Maud is one of those characters that I won’t soon forget. I think it was her vulnerability in the face of a disease that is taking away all that is important to her that touched me deeply. There is a dark humor to this book as many times the things Maud would say or do would be amusing but in reality they aren’t. They are being caused by a devastating disease that takes life from so many people.
I listened to the audiobook version of Elizabeth is Missing and it is a great audio narrated by Anna Bentinck. She does a fabulous job of portraying Maud and her ever decreasing memory. You could feel Maud’s confusion and frustration with her memory through the narration and that’s the sign of a great reader.
Elizabeth is Missing is for those who enjoy women’s fiction with the hint of a thriller and would be a perfect choice for a book club pick. Highly recommended!