Elizabeth is Missing
by Emma Healey
Read: June 26-July 4, 2014
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 31
Source: TLC Book Tour
Blurb: Despite Maud’s growing anxiety about Elizabeth’s welfare, no one takes her concerns seriously – not her frustrated daughter, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son – because Maud suffers from dementia. But even as her memory disintegrates and she becomes increasingly dependent on the trail of handwritten notes she leaves for herself in her pockets and around her house, Maud cannot forget her best friend. Armed with only an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth – no matter what it takes.
As this singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present, the clues she uncovers lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: that of her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II. As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud’s search for Elizabeth develops a frantic momentum. Whom can she trust? Can she trust herself?
A page-turning novel of suspense, Elizabeth is Missing also hauntingly reminds us that we are all at the mercy of our memory. Always compelling, often poignant, and at times even blackly witty, this is an absolutely unforgettable novel.
Review: I received a copy of this book for free in conjunction with a TLC book tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.
I was about 65 pages into this book when I realized that I didn’t know if I could go on with it. At that point I had spent three days reading those 65 pages. Three days. And it wasn’t because it was a bad book. Not at all. It was because Maud’s dementia hit a little too close to home for me. My grandmother has recently been diagnosed with dementia. I’m not sure what stage she’s in, but things are definitely deteriorating with her and it’s heartbreaking to watch. So. I was stuck … did I push through or give up?
I chose to push through. But I think a part of me really wanted to understand what my grandmother is going through. And let me tell you, the way Ms. Healey portrays dementia … just, wow. Obviously not having any previous contact with someone with the disease, I’m not sure what things will really get like. But I felt as if Ms. Healey hit it spot on in the way Maud is portrayed. It just felt so real. And my heart broke for Maud. And Helen. And Katy. It really was tough to watch the family go through everything. And Helen was so strong throughout it all; stronger than I would be or could be in her position.
But back to the book. I think the only reason I couldn’t rate it higher than a 3 (which means I liked it, but didn’t love it), is because of the dementia issue. I had trouble getting past it at times. I was relieved when I got to the last 50 pages and we finally learned what had happened to Elizabeth. It really didn’t surprise me, and I had a feeling it was as it turned out to be. But what shocked me was the storyline with Sukey. I can’t help but wonder if Maud saw exactly what happened to her sister all those years before and the shock of it all made her brain block it from her. I might have read into that a little more than what was there, but that’s the feeling I got from Sukey’s storyline. (Or it might have been exactly what Ms. Healey was trying to tell us … I read the last 80 pages in the car with a screaming toddler; my concentration might have been broken a few times!)
Overall, I think Ms. Healey is a very talented author. She definitely has a way with developing her characters in a way I haven’t seen in a long time. And if you follow me regularly, you know character development is very important to me. The writing was very well done and was easy to read. The story lines alternated back and forth between present day and shortly after World War II when Maud was just a teenager. The Sukey storyline was much more lucid, but it was really the present day storyline that was the heart and soul of this book in my opinion. It was the storyline that told the heartbreaking truth about the disease of dementia.
I would definitely recommend this to other readers – mystery lovers, literary fiction lovers, individuals with friends/relatives suffering from dementia. I think the audience can be very wide-reaching with this book.
I enjoyed it overall, but I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read this book before my grandmother’s dementia diagnosis.
Find out more about Emma at her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.Emma Healey holds a degree in bookbinding and an MA in creative writing. Elizabeth Is Missing is her first novel. She lives in the UK.