How do you solve a crime when you can’t remember the clues?
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. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognizable – just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is 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 . . .
Emma Healey grew up in London where she completed her first degree in bookbinding. She has been lucky enough to have spent most of her working life in libraries, bookshops and galleries. She completed the MA in Creative Writing: Prose at UEA in 2011. Elizabeth is Missing is her first novel.
Firstly, let me just say wow. I only use a small word and not an expressive hyperbole because to be quite frank I don’t think that being hyperbolic expresses just how amazing Elizabeth is Missing actually is. Therefore, before I go into things I just want to congratulate Emma Healey on her impressive novel.
Elizabeth is Missing is one of the most engaging books that I have read this year. With its mix of past and present all jumbled together it just makes for a remarkable read. The story follows Maud, an older lady who is suffering from the most debilitating and heartbreaking of illnesses – Alzheimer’s disease. She is constantly forgetting things, places and people. She lives day to day by notes that she finds round the house ‘Don’t make toast’, ‘Don’t cook eggs’ – for the most part she looks after herself but has daily visits from her carers and her daughter Helen who has taken on the majority of duties as carer.
The story centres around Maud’s belief that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing however, as the reader we do not know whether this is a new event or a past event or something that Maud has made up in her confused state. The whole mystery of missing people is an allegory for the loss of mind and it is pretty powerful.
Elizabeth is Missing is truly heartbreaking and you want people to believe Maud, heck you want to believe her but equally you begin to question the validity of her statements. It is just an awful illness that Emma Healey has approached with such sensitivity that it makes it difficult to believe that Elizabeth is Missing is only her debut novel.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is available now.
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