It’s been a long time since I posted but here it is, a short book review of Emma Healey’s ” Elizabeth is missing.”
This book was actually given to me as a present from a friend of mine so I was eager to try something that had been hand-picked for me, which I never let anyone do (I’m a fussy person, yes). The book is ultimately about an elderly woman called “Maud”. Early on, you realise that Maud is very forgetful, possibly dementia but this is not mentioned nor is it important to the book. Healey successfully flits through Maud’s memories post war to the current. The themes that are highlighted are memory, identity and ageing. I found it remarkably interesting to look at the glass from the other side. Here is a woman, who is evidently aware that her friend “Elizabeth” is missing, yet what she just ate, is a far more difficult task for her. You despair with Maud at her moments of frustration, loneliness and reminiscing, in her desperate quest to find her best friend, Elizabeth.
For me, the book was very slow to begin with but I quickly became very intrigued towards the latter part of the book. Due to her age, Maud is often ignored and her opinions are silenced by family, such as her carers and even her daughter Helen. Yet her desire for strong independence and her sweet, childish-like refusals are illustrated well by her own notes to herself and her fond memories. Elizabeth’s hazy son, Peter nor Maud’s own daughter are reluctant and hesitant in answering Maud as to Elizabeth’s whereabouts, it is left up to Maud to solve this mystery. The clues that she surpasses on the way only force her to think deeper into her own past, particularly a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago, her sister Sukey’s disappearance. Could there be a parallel connection between these two unsolved mysteries?
As the book progresses, Healey has done a brilliant job in illustrating the irony of Maud’s memory getting the better of her amidst her compelling need for her to find out what happened to Elizabeth.. It definitely creates tension and grips the reader. For me , this book is well worth a read; certainly a different concept and narrative from a eighty-one year old which only enhances the reality of Maud’s then and now experiences. At the heart of this book is the story of the effects that age and mental illness can have on the human mind.