Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing

I had heard a LOT of hype about this book – it has been nominated for many different awards, and a number of friends had raved about it too, so I had high hopes!

This is what the Amazon blurb said:

“Meet Maud.
Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable – or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.
But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.
Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.
Everyone, except Maud . . .”

It is written with Maud as the narrator, and moves between the current day – when Maud is an old lady in her 80s and suffering from some sort of memory loss, back to when she was a young girl in the Second World War – when she was completely lucid, albeit young and naive. Maud is convinced her friend Elizabeth has gone missing in the present day – and is properly obsessed by this – but at the same time she is recalling how her sister Sukey went missing at the end of the war.

It is very cleverly written – and the way the author deals with Maud’s memory loss is brilliant.  For example when she can’t remember the word for a specific item then she will describe what it’s used for. Both this and the obsessive behaviours Maud portrays, the ‘interesting’ clothing choices and the way her daughter Helen has to pick up the pieces reminded me very much of a friend whose mother had vascular dementia and she blogged about it.

The modern day story line and wartime story line both conclude well within the book – and the language is beautifully used.


I’m not sure what I expected, but I wasn’t totally wowed. As I was reading it I didn’t think ‘just one more chapter’ which I often do with books. It was good – but didn’t blow my mind as I had thought it would. Didn’t quite live up to the hype in my book.

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