Saturday, 23 May 2015

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Paperback, Waterstones Book Club Edition, 275 pages
Published January 1st 2015 by Penguin (first published January 1st 2014)

Blurb: "In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a 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?"

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was an interesting and very sad insight into the mind of someone with Dementia. It was also interesting to examine the reactions of the people around her to Maud's dementia. Her daughter is obviously trying to care for her and keep her in her own home but you can see her frustration too. In Maud's search for her missing friend Elizabeth, she also causes confusion at the police station when trying to report her as missing. The police's attitude towards her of mockery shows another side of how people can treat people with dementia. Whereas Elizabeth's son Peter show no compassion or understanding towards Maud at all; instead seemingly angry with her despite her condition.

Maud's efforts to remember what she is meant to be doing on a daily basis by writing post-it notes to herself is incredibly sad. The mixture of thoughts about the past converging with the present day, show how confusing it must be to live with dementia. The two thoughts that remain in Maud's mind are 'Elizabeth is Missing' and 'where is the best place to plant marrows?' as she tries to resolve the key mysteries that are haunting her.

Although I thought the story was a little too drawn out at times and some of the flashbacks to the past were unnecessary, overall it was a very moving novel.

8 out of 10

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