The Plot: Maud is suffering from dementia, she writes notes to herself to remember not to cook, not to leave the house and not to buy more tinned peaches. Her memory is splintered, and time is non-liner. She often relives the disappearance of her beloved sister, Sukey. Now her friend, Elizabeth, is also missing. Maud is desperate to piece together the fragments, find Elizabeth and solve the historic disappearance of her sister.
Emma Healey has written with great understanding, empathy and tenderness. Though Maud has lost some of her independence and faculties, she is not just defined by her dementia. She is a smart, brave and inquisitive person. More capable and perceptive than she is given credit for. Maud's family is also well written, her daughter, Helen, is patient and loving but her frustration is sometimes understandably displayed.
This novel could have been too fractured, with Maud as the narrator. An event or concept which she obsesses about on one page is vague in the next. It is very effective writing, and the novel would not have had as nearly as much impact if it had been told from a third person perspective. It is commendable and original. that a voice that is often dismissed or ignored in society, that of an elderly woman, is put centre stage in such a successful novel.
The two mysteries of the novel, the disappearances of Elizabeth and Sukey, are gripping. I changed my mind constantly about who I thought was responsible.
I don't have a single bad thing to say about Elizabeth is Missing. It is a poignant and important novel about ageing and dementia, and also a riveting detective story, i urge you to read it.