Another book review, finally! This time I shall rave about ‘Elizabeth Is Missing’ by Emma Healey. Here goes:
The first thing I was intrigued by about this book was its cover design. Oh, the superficiality… But turns out, the contents of this little gem are even greater than its cover! The story is told from the perspective of Maud, a more and more forgetful 80-something. She keeps scribbling onto pieces of paper that her friend Elizabeth is missing but cannot remember when or why she wrote that or even when she last saw Elizabeth. On top of it, nobody seems to care. The more she loses her memory of recent events, the more she regains memories of a time in her life when she was only a girl and her older sister mysteriously went missing. As a result, both timelines – the long-ago-past and the present day – get tangled into each other.
I hereby take my hat off to Emma Healey for the conception of this book. I think it is brilliant. The story is of two mysteries occurring decades apart from each other and it manages to show quite cleverly how things that happened long ago influence our decisions and just who we are as a person. Do you know the TV series ‘Cold Case’? I used to enjoy the episodes in which the crime had happened ages ago and the image got all sepia when the old bits were shown. That’s a bit what the flashbacks in this book felt to me. I love that.
In addition to the mystery and the Cold Case elements, there was a whole different dimension to the book in that it conveyed an authentic depiction of dementia and how challenging that is not only for the person suffering from it but also for their surroundings. This psychological aspect I found extremely well crafted. As was the whole story really – beautifully told in a language that felt very fluent and organic. The only somewhat negative thought I had about this book is that at some points the narration feels slightly repetitive or even a bit dragging. But then again this ties in just perfectly with the frustrating forgetfulness Maud has to experience. I would really like to be able to write a story like this… then I would never do anything else than writing books, actually.