Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is one of the longer works of fiction I have finished listening to in the past few months. I will say that I picked it up based on the cover, thinking it might be a cosy mystery, but I was surprised to find out it was something altogether different…
In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.
Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.
But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.
This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.
As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?
I did enjoy this book but I found myself a little bit lost at times. I’m not sure if it was due to listening to the words as opposed to reading them or a stylistic choice by the author used to put you directly into the shoes of Maud, the main character, who is losing her memory to dementia. Confusion aside, it was worth the listen as the story was engaging and well told.
Rating: 4 stars