Tuesday 2 September 2014

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

A mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud ...

'Elizabeth is missing' reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting, and the one on the wall.

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 fast-paced mystery, an unforgettable voice: you will laugh and cry but you'll never forget Maud.

Elizabeth is Missing is Emma Healey's first novel and was published in hardback in the UK by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books on 5 June 2014.

Maud is 82 years old. She often feels confused, she writes herself notes and remembers to go the shop most days. Maud sometimes doesn't remember what the notes mean. Maud continues to buy tinned peaches, despite the fact that her shelves are full of them. There is one thing that Maud is sure of, and that is that Elizabeth is missing.

The police don't seem to care that Elizabeth is missing. Maud visits the police station regularly, she tells the constable that she is worried about Elizabeth, but they don't do anything. Maud's daughter Helen brushes off Maud's worries too. Nobody will listen to her.

Maud remembers that someone else she loved went missing too. She needs to find the other part of the broken silver and blue compact to solve the mystery ..... and it would help if she knew the best place to grow marrows.

Elizabeth Is Missing is a study of the mind combined with the thrill of a crime story. Emma Healey shows extraordinary insight in her development of Maud's character, I should maybe say that it's a destruction of a character really as the reader only gets to know Maud as her brain is deteriorating.

Maud is infuriating, she drives her daughter Helen to despair, and Helen's underlying frustration is painful to read about, but perfectly done. The incredible sadness and pain that a daughter feels whilst watching her Mother slowly degenerate into an almost childlike state is very well portrayed, as is the undeniable anger, embarrassment and pity that Helen tries to hard to conceal.

There were times whilst reading Elizabeth Is Missing that I, like Maud, got a little confused. The crime story from Maud's childhood is intricately woven into the present time, and sometimes becomes a little muddled.

However, this is a book that will pull at the heartstrings, that will make the reader think about life and memory and getting older. It's a frightening story in that it is so possible and for many of us and our families, very probable.

An accomplished debut novel. Emma Healey is a talented author who writes beautifully, with conviction.

Emma Healey grew up in London, where she completed her first degree in bookbinding. She has been lucky enough to have spent most of her working life in libraries, bookshops and galleries. She completed her MA in Creative Writing: Prose at UEA in 2011. Elizabeth Is Missing is her first novel.
For more information about the author, visit her website www.emmahealey.co.uk
Visit her author page on Facebook    Follow her on Twitter @ECHealey


  1. Thank you Anne - straight to wishlist!

  2. Hope you enjoy it Susan - thanks for commenting

  3. Enjoyed your review, Anne. I thought it was really clever how Emma Healey managed to portray other perspectives than Maud's (particularly perhaps the police and her daughter's) while maintaining the single narrator.
    Anyone interested in the novel might like to see my Q&A with the author here: http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/emma-healey.html