I’m in love. That’s right everyone! I am head over heels, shout it out loud from the roof tops in L-O-V-E! And who is the lucky recipient of my affections you may ask? Emma Healey. Emma Wonderful Amazing Healey! And what has Ms. Healey done to win over my heart? Well… She has written probably one of the best books that I have read all year! Elizabeth Is Missing was gripping, heart-wrenching, and had me speeding through the chapters to find out what would happen next. In the words of Deborah Moggach, “I read it at a gulp.”
The novel focuses on the character of Maud, an elderly woman whose mind is quickly deteriorating from Alzheimer’s disease (or at least the reader is led to assume). While Maud’s memory may be failing, there is one thing that she knows for sure, her best friend Elizabeth is missing. Is Elizabeth’s controlling son the reason for this disappearance? Or has Elizabeth simply gone away on vacation? And how do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?
Trying to piece together what has happened to her friend, Maud remembers a similar case involving the disappearance of her sister more than 60 years ago. While the reader eventually gets some clues as to Elizabeth’s whereabouts, the flashbacks to Maud’s search for her sister in the past will have you on the edge of your seat! The result is a captivating story that reads like Guy Pearce’s Memento meets Miss Marple!
Now I know that some of you may be hesitant at first to pick this book up. I know I was. When I first discovered that the story focused on a narrator with Alzheimer’s, I immediately assumed that it would be depressing and sad (a la Notebook). While Maud’s memory loss plays a huge role in the novel (and you do feel sympathetic for her), the plot is more focused on the mystery and suspense surrounding these two disappearances that have shaken Maud’s world.
To put it quite simply, I was blown away by everything in this book: the characters, the plot, the style of writing….EVERYTHING! Maud’s flawless narration is absolute perfection, and you would never be able to guess that the actual author is really only 30 years old. So for all those reasons above, Emma Healey has my undying devotion as a reader! My only complaint is that I won’t be able to experience this book for the first time again (although I’m sure that I will re-read it at some time in the future). If there is one book that you should read this year, make sure it’s Elizabeth Is Missing!