Friday, 6 June 2014

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Out now
Published by Penguin
Purchase from Amazon

The Blurb:

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey's stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud ...

'Elizabeth is missing', reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting.

Lately, Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won't be forgotten.

My Review:

Elizabeth is Missing is the debut novel by Emma Healey. It centres around a character called Maud. At first it appears that Maud is somewhat forgetful, but it quickly becomes obvious that, in fact, Maud has more serious problems with her memory. To help her remember things Maud writes herself lots of notes, but these also become all jumbled.

The one constant is the Maud believes her friend Elizabeth is missing. Throughout the book Maud is on a quest to find her missing friend. She visits Elizabeth's house but cant find her and her neighbours don't appear much help. Because of her memory problems as a reader I couldn't work out for a long while what had happened to Elizabeth.

Tied in with this is the ongoing memories of her past and the disappearance of her sister Sukey. We as readers get to see what happened in the lead up to Sukey's disappearance as well as what happened after. We meet some key characters in Douglas who was the family lodger, and Frank, who was Sukey's husband. Both came across to me as sinister characters and key to her sister going missing. My dislike and distrust of them made me want to get to the bottom of what had actually happened to her, although I didn't know if that was possible as it had all happened so many years ago.

The book flits between Maud in the present day, Maud looking for Elizabeth, and Maud's past family life.

As a reader I enjoyed that the book, whilst exploring Maud's dementia, also felt like a detective crime story, trying to pull together information to solve the disappearances of both Sukey and Elizabeth.

It was very moving to read about Maud's dementia. It was heartbreaking to think of the effect that it had not only on Maud herself, but her daughter Helen and granddaughter Katy. The author conveyed the feelings of desperation and helplessness on all sides. My heart went out to them and I can only imagine how hard this condition must be to live with and to witness.

I really enjoyed this book and I don't want to give away too much about the story and the ending, but I was left feeling happy.  Not only was it a good book to read but the concept was very clever. It gave me the escapism of a novel, but insightful was into the real life effect of dementia. A very deep and moving book. I was surprised it w a debut novel as it is so well written and it is obvious that alot of work had gone into researching the theme.

Thank you to Penguin who provided a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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