REVIEW: ELIZABETH IS MISSING, BY EMMA HEALEY

18635113What happens when an aging woman begins to lose her memory, bits and pieces at a time? When the past and the present seemingly come together until her identity slowly dissolves?

Set in England, Elizabeth Is Missing is that story, and as it unfolds in the first person narrative of Maud, the aging mother and grandmother, we are soon catapulted into her interior world, almost as if the losses are ours.

Most poignant of all is the terror and fear that Maud feels when she begins obsessively searching for her friend Elizabeth whom she is certain has been taken or spirited away. Perhaps by her son. The feelings are enhanced by intermittent memories of a time in her younger years when her sister Sukey went missing. That mystery haunts her, and as she reminisces, it is almost as if that loss is entangled with the present losses: of her best friend Elizabeth; her own independence; the memories that elude her; and the feelings of invisibility.

Why does Maud feel compelled to dig in the garden? Why does she gather odds and ends into secret containers? Is there a very real connection between the past and the present that could explain these mysterious events?

I totally empathized with Maud, especially since everyone in her life seemed to ignore her feelings and treat her like someone who no longer mattered. I felt her frustration, and even anger at her dismissive daughter Helen. Yes, I am sure Helen’s feelings and impatient behavior were mitigated by the burden of being a caretaker, and that they might also be based on her worries and fears for her mother’s safety.

So imagine our surprise to find out that some of Maud’s behavior might have a strong basis in fact, and are not just the ranting of a paranoid and obsessive old woman.

Every page I turned brought to light new pieces of the tragic events in Maud’s past and present life and her losses, and I could not wait to find out more. An unforgettable voyage that reminds us of the importance of empathy and understanding. Five stars.

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14 thoughts on “REVIEW: ELIZABETH IS MISSING, BY EMMA HEALEY

  1. Wonderful review, it’s going straight on my wishlist. I’ve been searching for another read with similar themes to Still Alice by Lisa Genova, so moving and heartbreaking … this might fit the bill.

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