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review 2015-11-01 00:00
Elizabeth Is Missing
Elizabeth Is Missing - Emma Healey Elizabeth is missing was an emotional story about an elderly lady who is living with dementia.

I liked the story as I found it extremely effective at highlighting how difficult the illness is on family members; I found the character of Helen so real in this story and I am sure there are daughters and sisters and family out there reading this book and can identity with the character of Helen as she tries to look after and understand the world in which her mother finds herself struck in. Interestingly... we don't get the story from Helen's prospective and yet I sympathised so much with her character and I think the reason for this was that I became Helen and Maud became my mother while reading the novel

I found the author's use of language very effective throughout the book and her descriptions of situations very real. Maud is such a convincing character in this novel and I could have rated it 5 stars alone for how well Maud's voice stands out in this story.
I did however find many holes in the plot and the book became rather repetitive half ways through. I didn't find it a compelling psychological thriller as it was described but I did find it and emotional and interesting read and it really did highlight how difficult life is for families living with Alzheimer's or any form of memory loss.

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review 2015-06-24 01:31
Where is Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Is Missing - Emma Healey

I enjoyed this book, it really got 'under my skin'. Emma Healey paints a very convincing picture of a woman sliding progressively into dementia and I felt as if I was sliding with her!

Maud is 82 and managing to live in her own home, with the help of visits from her daughter, Helen and a carer who comes in every morning. In between those times she struggles to organise her life using reminders written on a multitude of pieces of paper. She goes to the corner shop and can't remember what she went for, returning with yet more tins of peaches. She leaves cups of tea around the house un-drunk. She eats endless pieces of toast.
But what bothers her most is that her close friend Elizabeth is not in her house and seems to have totally disappeared. She is sure Elizabeth's surly son has something to do with his mother's disappearance. In spite of all Maud's problems, she manages to visit Elizabeth's house for frequent checks and has the wherewithal to report her disappearance to the police.

Then there is the other mystery that plays in the back of her mind, the disappearance of her beautiful sister back in the 1940s. Small clues nag at her memory, but she can't seem to piece them together.
While the question of Elizabeth's disappearance highlights Maud's immediate problems, the mystery from the past provides some light relief to the narrative and gives us some insight into the younger Maud.

I thought this was a very cleverly executed book. It even began to get me to question my own sanity! My only complaint was the endless pieces of paper; I wanted to buy Maud a notebook to keep everything in chronological order so she'd know that she'd already attended her doctor's appointment or bought enough tins of peaches.

We are given a fascinating insight into what must be going on in the mind of a person with progressive dementia and I came away with considerably improved understanding of their suffering.
Highly recommended.

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review 2015-04-13 00:00
Elizabeth Is Missing
Elizabeth Is Missing - Emma Healey Whilst it's quite unique to write a book from the point of view of a senile lady with severe memory loss problems (Alzheimers, not specified, though) it is utterly imperative to write it in a way that isn't utterly boring, slow and, well, like the narrator has Alzheimers. It is obviously repetitive and full of inner monologue so droll I went and looked up spoilers because I couldn't bring myself to read the rest of it.

I appreciate what the author tried to do, but she failed miserably. In my humble opinion, of course. Obligatory apology for having an opinion, of course.
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review 2015-03-20 12:56
Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey

I finished this book yesterday afternoon and I still feel conflicted as to how to rate it. I enjoyed reading the book and I thought the character Maud was so well written. It felt like I was getting a real insight into how the thought process of a person with dementia works.


My issue though is that it felt like the novel wasn't as clever as I was led to believe it would be. It seemed like there were holes in the plot all over the place but they were allowed to slide because Maud would have forgotten things. The problem is that many things were told to Maud and I felt like I knew so much about her day and her life and yet at no point is Maud ever explicitly told what happened to Elizabeth.


The novel as a whole was predictable, I suspected from the very beginning how it was going to end up. I hoped I would be proved wrong but I wasn't and so it felt like a let down.


So, I'm back to my conflicting thoughts. My love for the character of Maud and my absolute empathy for Helen makes me want to give this book 5 stars but the plot holes just bother me too much.

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review 2015-01-30 13:29
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey

This book was fantastic and well worthy of the Costa First Novel Award.


It tells the story of Maud who is in her eighties and is suffering from dementia. She’s trying to piece together the mystery of the disappearance of her friend, Elizabeth. Because she has dementia, she writes herself notes to remind herself of things. She keeps finding some notes that trouble her, claiming Elizabeth is missing.


This story is not just about Elizabeth though, it interweaves the time in Maud’s life, seventy years previously, when her sister, Sukey, went missing.


This story is told in the first person and uses present tense when telling of the current search for her friend Elizabeth and when something triggers a memory, the reader slips seamlessly into the past tense. The use of present tense is always a favourite of mine and works extremely well here because it means the reader feels like they are living Maud’s life minute by minute and are witness to her decline.


Maud would be considered an unreliable narrator as her mind is slipping further throughout the novel and at one moment she remembers things and the next she doesn’t. I didn’t find this infuriating for the most part, it was only at the end, when her dementia is at its worst, that I got a little confused. I had to re-read the epilogue twice to make sure I got it correctly!


What struck me most about this novel was the voice. It was amazing to think that the author had entered the mind of an elderly woman with dementia so convincingly. Aside from that, the other characters were well-done, if not a bit thin. The dialogue was always authentic and smooth. There were also numerous things, mentioned throughout the novel which has significance later on. What I would say, is don’t take too long to read this one. It’s a short novel anyway, at just over 300 pages, but because of the significance of earlier happenings, you’ll get the most benefit by reading it in a few days. I wouldn’t say it’s a hard read, but again it’ll resonate more if read in a shorter time span.


There were a couple of reasons I haven’t given this five stars. One is the confusion I felt at the end, forcing me to re-read the epilogue and secondly I thought to myself, if Maud’s daughter, Helen, kept repeating things that Maud had forgotten, why then didn’t she keep repeating the details of what had happened to Elizabeth!? It would have saved a lot of time, but I guess then there wouldn’t have been a story! I also felt that the ending was a bit much.


People have discussed that this could have been told as a short story instead of a novel. I can see that point, but then we wouldn’t have seen so much of Maud’s character, which I really enjoyed. Also, I think it would have diminished the power of all the strands that came together so well.


An excellent read, that was at times dispersed with humor to balance the weighty topic and one that'll stay with me a long time.

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