By Dakota.Me.UK, Jul 5 2015 09:00AM
Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey, Penguin, 2015.
Meet Maud. Maud forgets things. She forgets whether she’s bought peaches at the local shop. She had to give up her volunteer job at the local charity shop as sometimes she forgot what a pound coin looked like. But there’s one thing she keeps remembering – her friend Elizabeth is missing.
There is also the matter of her sister Sukey who went missing when she was a young girl, a missing person’s case which was never solved. This is the first novel I have been aware of which has written from the perspective of a person with Alzheimer’s, rather than through the eyes of the people around them. My Granny suffered with dementia and I found the writing very convincing.
Maud’s forgetfulness and confusion fits nicely with the combination of events in the present day, and flashbacks to when she was a girl, the close relationship she had with her sister and despair when she went missing. Both Sukey’s husband Frank and the family lodger Douglas cause suspicion in their actions. But still Maud asks – where is Elizabeth?
Maud also has her daughter Helen visit and carers who come in as well. Nobody seems to put the same importance on Elizabeth being missing, and the matter keeps being swept under the carpet. The reader does get a sense of foreboding that something terrible has happened to Elizabeth.
I found the book really easy to read and kept coming back to it wanting to know what would happen next. We do get a sense of satisfaction at the end when all the loose ends are tied up, although there is a sense of sadness to it as well.
Elizabeth is Missing won the Costa First Novel award 2014 and has been nominated for various other awards; it is definitely worthy of these accolades. I definitely feel all the attention is justified with this novel, and can’t wait to read more writing by Emma Healey.