Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

thElizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey’s stunning debut novel, introduces 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.

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.

We seem to have read quite a lot of very ‘samey’ books recently so I was a little dubious about reading this one for book group. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The way in which Emma Healey portrayed Maud was both gentle and, I believe, very accurate. I have limited experience of Alzheimer’s disease but I felt as though Maud was incredibly genuine and very well written and felt deeply for her plight to discover what happened to Elizabeth.

The book was met with mixed views at our meeting and although everyone seemed to find the read well written and interesting, some members did struggle with the believability of Maud’s character, and of the final plot twist too. However, it wasn’t until I began to write this blog that I realised that we digressed in our meeting and talked too much about social care and the current system than we did of the book. Indeed, the issues we raised did generate a healthy and lengthy discussion about the disease, and how it’s managed through out current welfare system, but we failed to get back to the novel in the end.

No one seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, but no one took a particular disliking to it either. In summary it was an interesting read addressing some delicate issues but maybe the sub-plot could have been a little stronger. It’s clear throughout the book that the disappearance of Elizabeth plays a strong role in Maud’s life but when the mystery is finally unravelled it feels a little far fetched. Nevertheless, I do believe it to be a very good novel and certainly recommend it as a general good read for anyone.

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About the group

The Tees Valley Book Group meets at Stockton Central Library at 6.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit www.newwritingnorth.com/submit/join-tees-valley-book-group.

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