Friday, 29 May 2015

Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing

I haven't been reading as much as I would like recently, and that is all down to that dreaded time of the year for us students - it is exam month. Although I haven't studied anywhere near as much as I probably should have (and that is a result of my poor motivation), I haven't really been sitting down and reading many books. That being said, I have had Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey sitting by my bed for a good few weeks now and I have been reading a chapter or two every now and then. It has taken a while, but I have finally finished it.


 Elizabeth is Missing follows Maud, an elderly lady suffering from dementia. The synopsis from Amazon goes (roughly) as follows: "Emma Healey's stunning debut novel introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud... 'Elizabeth is missing', reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting. Lately, Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud determined to discover what happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war."

The story jumps between the present day as it is seen by Maud and her confused brain and her as a young girl, as she follows the various clues and mysteries surrounding the disappearance of Sukey and Elizabeth. Written in first person narrative, you get a real insight into the mind of someone suffering from dementia. You are told something one minute, and then Maud will have forgotten it a few sentences later. It is one of those rare cases that you sometimes know more than the main character themselves, and it is entirely refreshing.


I have to admit, there was something about this book that made me struggle to properly get into it. I don't know if it was just me or if it had anything to do with the book, but I really struggled to concentrate with it. Like I said, I read only a couple of chapters at a time and it took me a while to get through it despite it not being a particularly long book, and yet normally I fly through books. That said, there really is nothing else like this book. It's about time that I read a unique book - something that isn't just the same story AGAIN, but with different characters. It's not often a book told from the point of view of an elderly lady lands in my hands, but this time I am quite glad it did.

Throughout the story, the passages on Maud's childhood become progressively longer as the present day information become shorter and shorter. This is something that you would expect from an elderly dementia sufferer due to finding it much easier to recall the past, and I thought that in this respect it was very cleverly written. However, I just didn't feel like I really connected with Maud as a character. I don't think it is that I couldn't relate to her (as I am not 82 years old...) because I have read plenty of books before in which the main character is nothing like me, I just didn't feel much sympathy towards her. The whole way through the book I was thinking there was a massive hole in the story - surely Maud could have figured out what happened to Sukey when she still had her memory? Why wait until 70 years after she disappeared to become obsessed with it? I understand that her not knowing where her friend Elizabeth is has triggered something inside her about her missing sister, but surely she would have found some evidence before then. Maybe I am just reading too much into it (haha, reading, geddit?). 

Apart from that, I would say that it is a very well written book that is an enjoyable read, but possibly not my favourite book that I have read so far. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mindset whilst reading it, so I will go back to it and read it again at some point, but for now I will leave it at that. That said, I would say that I think you should check out this book (bit of a contradiction, I know) because it is quite refreshing to read something a little out of the norm every once in a while. A little change can do you good. 


  1. This sounds like an interesting read but I can understand why it could be a bit of a struggle to get through. I haven't heard of anything like it before so might take a chance on it anyway xx

    Charlotte / Colours & Carousels

  2. This book is on my reading list for the summer, it sounds so interesting that the way it is written I cant wait to read it!

    Yet Another Makeup Blog.

  3. I hope you like it! It would be a great summer read for relaxing in the sun x

  4. I would say that it is definitely worth reading because it is quite unique, I'd love to hear what you think of it! x


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