General musings

Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey


Elizabeth is Missing is about an older woman called Maud who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Throughout this book we experience her life both past and present. We travel back into Maud’s memories when she was a young girl, living at home, and trying to make sense of a family tragedy. Flash forward to the modern day, and Maud is trying very hard to comprehend the world around her. She seems to be obsessed with one thing, that Elizabeth is Missing.

The extreme confusion that Maud appears to be feeling is a very powerful observation of what it must be like to suffer from a memory related disease. Her utter confusion about everyday items such as pencils and umbrellas is very insightful. I remember when my grandfather’s memory was going and it was very difficult to watch, but how much more painful must it be to be the person experiencing it?

In the end, we come to understand where Maud gets her wires crossed, and why things such as planting marrows are important to her. Her daughter Helen and her granddaughter Katy do their best to ensure that Maud is kept safe and try to remain patient with Maud’s relentless questioning. Are all of her queries and statements just a confused old woman’s train of thought, or does Maud’s memory serve her correctly? Will she ever find out what happened to Elizabeth, and will she ever get peace from the past that haunts her?

This book is an eye-opening read. We often sit by and observe the effects of dementia, but never give much thought to the way that the individual affected by it must feel. I really enjoyed this book and was very impressed with the ending. The book will leave you confused at times. You’ll find yourself asking whether Maud’s memories can be trusted; is she a reliable narrator? Will we ever understand what happened in her past? And, where the hell is Elizabeth?!

A great read! Definitely worth picking it up!


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