Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey


Title: Elizabeth is Missing

Author: Emma Healey

Published: Viking: Penguin Australia July 2014

Read an extract

Status: Read on July 22, 2014 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Elizabeth is Missing by debut author Emma Healey is a poignant and gripping mystery about loss, memory and murder.

The narrative unfolds from the unique perspective of Maud Horsham, an eighty two year old mother and grandmother, suffering from progressive dementia. Maud relies on carefully written notes, and daily visits from a carer and her daughter Helen, to remember the things she forgets, but increasingly Maud’s concerns have narrowed to the lack of contact from her closest friend, Elizabeth. While Helen, and others, dismiss her fears as a senile obsession, Maud is convinced something awful has happened and embarks on an investigation to find her missing friend.

Told with extraordinary insight into the complexities of a failing mind I was effortlessly drawn into Maud’s muddled world. It is not an easy space to inhabit, especially if you have witnessed a similar decline in a loved one as I have, or fear a similar fate, as I do. Fleeting instances of lucidity add to the poignancy of the narrative as Maud slips between the past and the present, between remembering and forgetting.

Entwined with Maud’s search for Elizabeth, and her everyday struggle with her failing memory, is a second narrative that reveals in 1946 Maud’s married older sister, Sukey, vanished without a trace. It soon becomes clear that Maud’s fears for her missing friend, Elizabeth, are tangled with the memories of Maud’s sister’s disappearance, and to solve one mystery, will be to solve the other.

The suspense of both mysteries are well maintained through out the novel and the past and present narratives flow seamlessly into each other. Despite the distressing nature of Maud’s illness there are also moments of humour which helps to temper the bleak realities.

A clever and compelling novel, I thought Elizabeth is Missing was an engrossing read with an unforgettable protagonist. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Elizabeth is Missing is available to purchase from

Penguin AU Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US I Amazon UK

and all good bookstores.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 18:17:03

    This sounds such a haunting book. Would love to read this.



  2. laurelrainsnow
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 23:56:59

    I loved this book, too, and felt so immersed in Maud’s world, as if her thoughts and mine were entwined. Unforgettable book!



  3. Mandy
    Jul 26, 2014 @ 18:34:05

    Sounds like a good read – I have it on my TBR list and I may have to move it up the list!



  4. Kate W
    Jul 26, 2014 @ 19:03:07

    Have read consistently good reviews of this one.



  5. Lindsey
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 02:56:01

    I really want to read this one. I am glad to see that you found it a powerful read!



  6. Teddyree
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 14:15:41

    I’m looking forward to reading this one, even though it sounds emotionally tough… similar to how I felt reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Have you read it? Love your review Shelleyrae



  7. stacybuckeye
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 12:59:04

    I’ve read a few glowing reviews, like yours over the last week. Looking forward to this one.



  8. Trackback: Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved to The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective | book'd out

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