Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Maud may be having a little difficulty with her memory of late, but she knows one thing. Her friend Elizabeth is missing and that she needs to find her. Elizabeth is Missing is a surprising novel and an intriguing mystery, told from the perspective of an elderly woman who is suffering from dementia and one that reaches a surprising conclusion--though much like Maud's memory, the pieces of the puzzle are all there, it is just a matter of looking and putting the right things together.

Elizabeth is Missing has been available for a while now and has been on my to-read list for some time after I read positive reviews from other bloggers. When I saw that the novel was being rereleased and was available on netgalley, I snapped up the opportunity to read it. I am glad that I did. I found myself challenged in all the right ways--to think what it must be like to be old, losing ones memory and to be treated rather condescendingly by carers and by family. Add to the mix that Maud has something very important that she needs to communicate but cannot find the right words, and does not always do things in a way that is easily understood by others, and it makes quite a powerful story. 

Much of the novel is told in flashbacks to an era that Maud can still remember well (her long term memory is unaffected, which is often the case with dementia patients,) and to a terrible family mystery that shaped her youth. I was intrigued to see if and how the present day story and flashbacks would eventually link and I was blown away by the outcome. Healey is a talented writer and combines an intriguing mystery with a heartbreakingly honest meditation on ageing and memory loss.

Highly recommended.

Big shout out and thank you to Penguin Books Australia and Netgalley for my review copy.