Elizabeth Is Missing is a contemporary mystery, set in England.
Maud is an elderly lady; she lives alone, but has carers who visit her each day and her daughter lives close by. Maud is getting forgetful and shows signs of early dementia; she forgets faces, names, reasons she went to the shops and many other things. However, one thing she is clear on: Elizabeth is missing.
Elizabeth is Maud’s friend, but she no longer answers her phone and is never at home when Maud calls round. Maud is convinced that no one is taking her seriously and she goes to great lengths to find her friend.
Interspersed throughout the narrative are Maud’s memories of her childhood. She was a teenager at the end of the war; rationing was still in place and the country was slowly recovering. Each time Maud re-visits her youth, we get more information about her home life and her sister Sukey, a young married women, who left her husband and was never seen again.
Maud’s forgetfulness in the current timeline makes her an unreliable narrator. However, her memories of her childhood are much clearer. I found it easy to empathise with the frustrations that Maud’s failing memory caused for both herself and her family. This is a haunting read; the slow pace is reflective of Maud, but the story still builds to a satisfying denouement.
Winner of the 2014 Costa book awards; I’m rather late to this book, but I’m glad it caught my eye.
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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.