Elizabeth Is Missing

A review of the book by Emma Healey.

Is it a murder mystery? I’m not going to tell you and give the game away. You’ll have to read it to find out.

Maud Horsham is an octogenarian. She is also very, very forgetful about things that happened recently, though she has vivid memories from her childhood. Because of her failing memory, she has to make copious notes about the things she needs to remember. One of the notes that she wrote, a lot were written for her by other people, says “Elizabeth Is Missing”.

Elizabeth had been Maud’s friend for many years and was her only remaining friend. They had worked together in a charity shop. How was a woman who sometimes couldn’t remember her own daughter, find her missing friend?

Elizabeth, though, is not the first person who Maud knew who would go missing. When she was just a young girl, Maud’s sister Sukey had disappeared. Her family spent months, years searching for her. Did the memory of her sister, that kept invading her mind clearly, hamper Maud’s search for her friend, Elizabeth? What had the planting of prize winning marrows have to do with any of this?

It is hard to imagine that this story could be set anywhere other than in England. I know I should probably say Britain, to be politically correct, but I consider myself English so please don’t take me to task over my choice of words.

Elizabeth Is Missing, is the touching story of an ageing woman, probably with dementia, though this is never clearly stated, certainly forgetful. It could easily have become overly sentimental. Emma Healy handles it sensitively, and touchingly whilst avoiding the pitfalls of sentimentality. It was an original concept, for me anyway, you might know differently.

I imagine, though I have no personal experience, that anyone who has a relative with dementia would sympathise with the travails of Maud’s daughter, Helen. Especially where there are are siblings and the burden of care falls on one of them to a greater extent.

Elizabeth Is Missing is a tender and touching story, in this debut novel by Emma Healey.

“I wonder what sort of secrets a girl like you would have?”

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