Everything you’ve heard about Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is true. It is brilliant, beautiful and heart breaking. I am at a loss to understand how someone so young (28) could write such an accurate and sensitive portrayal of aging. At the heart of Elizabeth is Missing is Maud, who is quickly loosing touch with the present as she slips into the miasma of Alzheimer’s or dementia. She is convinced that something untoward has happened to her good friend Elizabeth, as something horrid had happened to her sister at least sixty years earlier.
Brilliant books that tackle difficult subjects, like dementia, are never easy to read. Maud’s vulnerability increases as her lucidity deceases. Her confusion is both frustrating and demoralizing. Thankfully Maud’s present situation is broken up with glimpses of her past and the mystery surrounding her sister’s disappearance. These portions have garnered Elizabeth is Missing comparisons to books such as Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep, but i feel this is unwarranted and unfair. Elizabeth is Missing is a topnotch piece of literary fiction. It does not have the same page turning qualities as the two psychological thrillers mentioned above.
Who would like this book? I know this book will be picked up by a lot of book clubs and I won’t be at all surprised if we see it as a Heather’s Pick in the near future. It should also be put on the list for anyone who wants greater insight into our aging population. I hope that I will treat my aging family more sensitively having read this. One of the few books I’d compare it to is Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry.
I received a copy of this book from my friends at Random House Canada in exchange for an honest and fair review.