Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing is such a touching book. It was a library book group selection, and not at all what I expected. Back when it was all the shop windows, my terrible eyesight was convinced the little creature on the front cover was a hamster or a hedgehog, and that this was the story of a woman who lost her pet(?!) Oddly enough, it isn’t.

Emma Healey’s debut novel is the story of Maud, whose advancing dementia leaves her increasingly confused, flitting between time periods, and convinced that her best friend Elizabeth has gone missing. Maud’s degree of concern for her missing friend, as well as her relationship with her daughter and granddaughter were incredibly poignant.

Alongside the mystery of Elizabeth, the book also focuses on the decades-old disappearance of Maud’s elder sister Sukey, told in regular flashbacks. Towards the end of the book, it wasn’t always immediately clear when the plot had shifted from one time period to another, which in retrospect served to highlight Maud’s plight even further.

I thought the way all the loose strands dovetailed together towards the end was brilliant. I count myself incredibly lucky in that I’ve never had a relative with Maud’s condition, and applaud the dignity and sensitivity with which the topic was handled. Emma Healey has a promising future ahead of her.

[Read from 11-13 March 2017]

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