I was immediately gripped by the narrator’s voice in this novel. The tragedy of Maud’s slow but inevitable descent into dementia is heart-breaking, as is the tale of her post-war youth, which keeps popping up in her scrambled mind.
Maud is most worried about her friend Elizabeth who is missing, but no-one, apart from Maud seems in the least be interested or worried about the disappearance. The question is, how can you find some-one if you keep forgetting the details? Maud tries to work around her forgetfulness by writing little notes for herself, and slowly she begins to get to the bottom of her friend’s disappearance. At the same time she remembers another disappearance; one that happened some 70 years ago, when her beautiful sister, Sukey, went missing.
The story is sad, but also incredibly funny in places. Frequently we see the world, and people, afresh through Maud’s eyes, while she tries to remember where she is, and who the people around her are. One scene where Maud discusses a young woman who we know is her granddaughter, Katy, with her daughter, Helen, is particularly funny:
‘I’ve been meaning to tell you. That girl you’ve hired, she doesn’t do any work. None. I’ve watched her.’
‘Who are you talking about now? What girl?’
‘The girl,’ I say. ‘She leaves plates by the sink and there are clothes all over the floor of her room.’
Helen grins and bites her lip. ‘Pretty good description. Mum, that’s Katy.’
As well as an excellent read – this novel is in the category of books that you just cannot put down – Elizabeth Is Missing gives a poignant insight into the mind of a person suffering from memory loss and dementia. It should be compulsory reading for everybody in our ageing society, so that we may gain a better understanding of this, now a far too common, affliction.
If you read one book this Christmas, make it Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey.
Emma Healey is a young author I shall look forward to reading again, and again, in the future.
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
£5.09 Kindle edition