Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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Elizabeth is Missing is one of the best books I read in a long time. The characters, particularly Maud, are living-breathing people. Emma Healey brings Maud to life. She is an old lady who is bumbling about her life, forgetting about the basics and struggling with confusion, but carrying on regardless. I know at least one Maud out there; everybody does. She is portrayed so skilfully and so aptly that I, as a reader, felt as if I were intruding on her, following her, sometimes trying to tell her, “Oh Maud, remember your hand! It’s going to hurt if you pull that bandage off!”

The story is constructed seamlessly. In the present day Maud leaves for herself endless notes to remind herself that her friend Elizabeth is missing. She pursues her suspicions tirelessly, driving those around her to despair. Her recollection of the present day is sketchy, but her memories of the post-war past are as sharp as a razor. Those memories are woven into her present-day haze to bring the mystery of her long missing sister into sharp focus. The present and the past are masterfully entwined and as the story progresses Maud uncovers the long-buried truths. Whether she is fully aware of that or not is another matter…

A fantastic story about the strength of willpower in the face of memory loss and brewing guilt. A triumph of the spirit over mind.

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