Stories about unreliable female narrators with compromised memories seem to be an ever growing trend in novels. Most are good and some like How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman are excellent. How does Elizabeth is Missing fare?
Elizabeth is missing. Maud finds this note in her pocket to remind her that she hasn’t seen her friend for a while. Where is Elizabeth? Maud is becoming very forgetful in her old age and keeps buying tins of peaches and making cups of tea and plates of toast. However, she is determined to find her friend and also remember what happened to her sister Sukey after the war ended.
First Impressions: Maud’s forgetfulness and the repetition of her thoughts did make me wonder if I would soon tire of the story. Would it turn out to be another shallow read with an incredibly contained plot?
Highlights: How wrong were my initial thoughts! Although the two mysteries – Elizabeth and Sukey – were interesting, the way the author depicted alzheimer’s was incredible. From my limited knowledge Healey was so accurate with Maud’s thoughts and actions. It was this part of the novel that saddened me the most – how sad the situation for Maud and her family. It got me thinking about why it is we all seem to want to live forever. The tension between Maud’s two adult children regarding her care was realistic and I could sympathise with both son and daughter. One of the funniest moments was when Maud’s granddaughter could rank which of Maud’s frequent questions would wind up her mother most.
If I was an editor: I don’t know how I could improve upon what the author has written. As interesting as the two mysteries are I probably did prefer the day to day drama of Maud’s life. It is almost like two books in one and the author has managed this well.
Overall: Ever so sad but not necessarily for the two mysteries which were each compelling in their own right.
Elizabeth is Missing: 5 stars
Thank you to Penguin Books (UK) for a copy of the ARC to review.