Thursday, 19 March 2015

Elizabeth Is Missing

The blurb: 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 unrecognisable – 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…

Rating: 5/5 stars

It’s been a while since I read a book cover to cover all the way through without stopping, but that’s exactly what I did with Elizabeth Is Missing. I started it at 7pm and turned the last page at 11pm – quite late for me to be awake on a weekday and definitely past my bedtime! But I just couldn’t put it down.

Maud is 82 and has dementia. Often forgetting things, she writes notes to herself to help her remember. Since she hasn’t heard from her friend Elizabeth for a while, or can’t remember hearing from her, she believes something terrible must have happened and sets about finding out where Elizabeth has gone. The events of the present day and the past frequently become tangled in Maud’s mind and the story moves between past and present to show how her quest to find Elizabeth triggers memories of the disappearance of her own sister, Sukey.

Because Maud is the narrator of the story, from the first few pages you gain a real insight into what it might be like to live with the condition. You experience along with Maud the things she forgets; the way others respond to her and how much it frustrates her. The theme of dementia is handled very sensitively and I think Emma Healey has done a wonderful job of finding the right balance between humour and poignancy to portray the way memory can deteriorate and the way in which elderly people can frequently find themselves living in the past. Maud is a delightful heroine and one that I won't forget about in a hurry. You can’t help but root for her, and feel strangely protective - I found myself really worrying that something bad was going to happen to her!

As well as being a thoughtful exploration of Alzheimer’s, the story is gripping as the mysteries of Elizabeth’s whereabouts and Sukey’s disappearance slowly unfold. The books moves between past and present as new developments in Maud’s search for Elizabeth echo the search for Sukey and both are woven together brilliantly. I really enjoyed seeing the way both aspects of the story developed and playing the usual guessing games with myself as each new piece of information was revealed, and the resolution was very satisfying. I think the story would have been great as a stand-alone crime novel but for me it was Maud and her failing memory that gave it that extra layer of depth to make it such a brilliant and thought-provoking read.

Too long, didn't read? Here's my Goodreads review:
Elizabeth Is MissingElizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Both a gripping mystery and a thoughtful look at the effects of dementia - Maud is a delightful heroine and Emma Healey does a wonderful job of weaving together sensitivity, poignancy, humour and suspense. A wonderful book.

View all my reviews


  1. I like the goodreads bit at the end!

  2. I like the goodreads bit at the end! :)

  3. This is in my TBR pile! I might read it next after reading this review! :)

  4. I really enjoyed this book too, it was such a unique perspective to read from!

    Megan x
    London Callings