Emma Healey's 'Elizabeth Is Missing' Review (+ Film Roles )15:00
'Elizabeth is missing', reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting.
Lately, Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.
A few weeks ago I added this book to my reading list over on pinterest and it was just my luck that I came across the book in a charity shop for £1 - so I just had to pick it up. I finished reading it the other week and I have to say I was pretty impressed. Normally, I wouldn't go for this type of book as when I think back over the books I have read (the list may not be as extensive as others but it's growing) they all tend to be dystopia or fantasy types.
Like with many other books, it took till about the first/second chapter to really get into the story. I'm someone who can't put a book down in the middle of a chapter and often found myself saying I'd put the book down at the end of a chapter and then once reaching the end just turning into the next.
Something I really liked about the book was the fact that we got to go back in time and hear Maud's story from when she was younger. I don't know what it was, but I fell in love with young Maud. You may be wondering why it was young Maud specifically and not the character as a whole, but I honestly don't think I could say why. I felt the past and present versions were quite different.
But I also felt it broke the book up nicely as if it was all set in the present day, I personally think that it would have been a little hard to follow - due to Maud's 'forgetfulness'. Parts of the narrative from the present day reminded me a lot of a book I once read for my AS English - 'Paddy Clarke'. However, I could not stand that book due to the way it was written, even though it was very clever, I found it was hard to follow. But with 'Elizabeth is Missing', Emma Healey very cleverly writes so that the reader feels Maud's jumbled thoughts and experiences some events alongside Maud in a muddled way, but not to the extent so the reader becomes utterly confused at what has happened, what is happening and what will happen.
Another aspect I like about the way the reader is joining Maud in the mystery surrounding Elizabeth is that exploration of dementia. As it is written in first person, we are given an insight into the life of someone suffering from it and personally, as someone who has thankfully never had anyone in my life suffer with it but also as someone who isn't that aware of what it is, it was an interesting way to become a little more informed on the disease.
After finishing the book, I came across this article on the dementia blog and found Healey's intentions interesting '' I just wanted better ways to guess at what my grandmother (Nancy), and several other members of my family, were going through, how they might feel, what they might be thinking, why they said and did the things they did''.
One last thing I'd like to add is that I attached to the story. I think it's because Maud is a lot like my grandma in the way she speaks and certain things she says to Helen. There were multiple times throughout the book were I could hear my grandma speaking Maud's words - it was strange. And to further add to the familiarity, Helen's reactions remind me so much of how my mum is with my grandma, and to top it all off, my mum is also called Helen. Just thinking about it, I maybe even a little like Katy.
Overall, 'Elizabeth is Missing' is a really good read, there is bits you will laugh at and bits that will make you teary eyed. I would definitely recommend it, even if it's not the sort of genre you would normally read.
As many people have reviewed the book, I felt I would add in my own little extra. One thing I always seem to struggle with when reading a book or creating my own characters etc, is visualising them. Well, actually I'm find with visualising them, but I for some reason picture them faceless (which gets a little creepy at times). Once I'd finished the book, as if I was going to turn it into a film, I thought of actors who would fit my idea of what some of the characters would look like - as away to stop imagining faceless people, which may help when reading books in the future.