Review: Elizabeth is Missing

June 10, 2014 book review, Harper Collins, psychological mystery, TLC Book Tour 10

Elizabeth is Missing

  • Written By:  Emma Healey
  • Published By: Harper Collins June 10, 2014
  • Length:  320 pages
  • Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Summary:  In this darkly riveting debut novel-a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging-an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences
Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory-and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud-not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth? (goodreads)

My Thoughts:  Immediately as I began reading this book I was thinking of Maud so warmly, in my own life my father had dementia and I’ve seen many older family members and friends suffer from this life altering change decline in mental capacity.  Maud tries to control her loss of memory with notes, lots of little notes with thoughts and instructions on them.  They are also all over her house, notes from her daughter and the caregivers that come to help her.  Notes to not cook, not turn on the stove, don’t go out, don’t go to the grocery, don’t buy any more cans of sliced peaches, and then notes that Elizabeth is missing.  She tells her daughter she can’t reach Elizabeth, she’s not at her house, she hasn’t been by, it’s not like her friend to be out of touch.

What Maud also forgets is that she’s told the police, and her doctors and everyone else she comes in contact with is that Elizabeth is missing, but in her confused state no one seems to be helping her, no one is looking.  Her daughter reassures her that Elizabeth’s son is taking care of her, but Maud doesn’t like him, she remembers her friend fussing that he didn’t get the kind of food she liked, so perhaps he’s not to be trusted.

Maud drifts between what she does know daily and it changes rapidly because she often forgets why she goes into another room, or why she has walked down the street.  Her mind takes her back to when she was a teen, and her sister Sukey just married went missing.  It’s as if she is determined both in the present and in her past to solve the mysteries.  Her memory of 1946 is vivid and sharp, the dementia is a cruel joke, robbing her of minute to minute details but leaving her with the past.

This book is a brilliant and often sad telling of a woman who is slipping from her day to day reality, but yet still knowing something is wrong.  Maud’s story will grab the reader and pull them into her determination and search for answers.  Thankfully in this book Maud is well cared for and loved.  I was anxious to find Elizabeth, where had she gone, was there fowl play?

This is Emma Healey’s first book, and if this is an indication of her skill with words and phrases than her work is to be followed and anticipated.  I warn you, this book was often difficult, having just lost my dad last year and some of Maud’s daily struggles reminded me of my dad.  In all I really loved it, it was a quick read for me because I felt drawn to know what happened.  Highly recommend.

Emma Healey

For more information on the author please visit her on her website, facebook page or twitter.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of this tour, for more stops along the tour follow here.

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10 Responses to “Review: Elizabeth is Missing”

  1. trish

    I know what it’s like when a book hits close to home! I’m so glad you enjoyed this book — it sounds wonderful! Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. Debbie D

    Wow. My mother in law is experiencing dementia now. This would be a very timely read for me.

    • Anita

      It was so well done Debbie, but not easy. I hesitated sharing it with my sister.

  3. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    Wow, I’m impressed you were able to pick up a book dealing with such a difficult topic when you have such a close personal connection through your dad. I can’t imagine dealing with this situation in real life, but I loved getting a small glimpse of what it would be like from this book. I thought the author did a great job making me empathize with both Maud and her caretakers and that was one of my favorite things about the book. Great review!

    • Anita

      Thanks so much Katie. I thought Emma did an amazing job being inside Maud’s head so to speak. It’s hard to explain a book that you enjoy but that is at the same time very sad. I also think the book is mismarketed as it’s not really a psychological thriller or mystery in the way most readers would expect.

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