Emma Healey - Elizabeth Is Missing


Genre: Fiction/Drama
Synopsis: 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 unrecognizable - 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.


I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book - the title and concept lent themselves somewhat to being a thriller - but I thought that might be difficult, given the first-person perspective of a person suffering dementia. It turned out to be more of a slow-paced mystery.

The writing is beautiful, featuring a sort of 'stream of consciousness' narrative which clearly illustrates the nature of Maud's condition without ever directly referencing it. For the most part, she is depicted as having no short term memory, which means she's quite forgetful and often becomes confused about where she is going or where she is. The fact that many things she does and says are repeated without becoming irritating is evidence of skill on the writer's part. If nothing else, this story is worth reading for Healey's success on this alone.

Throughout the novel Maud flips between her memories of her missing sister, and her attempts to find her missing friend in present day. Parallels are drawn between the two, and ultimately the mystery of Elizabeth (which stops being much of a mystery fairly early on) takes second place to solving that of her sister. The only downfall of this novel, for me, was the attempt at a resolution. I found the ending very convenient and abrupt, and honestly felt it somewhat lacking.

Overall, absolutely worth a read, but I would recommend it on the basis of the writing, rather than the story.

Rating: 3.5/5