Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma HealeyElizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth Is Missing

byEmma Healey

Hardcover | June 10, 2014

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WINNER 2014 – Costa Book Awards—First Novel 

An internationally heralded debut novel of extraordinary warmth, insight and humanity that will appeal to readers who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Still Alice: Elizabeth Is Missing is at once a page-turning mystery that takes us from post-war Britain to the present day and a piercingly honest portrait of love and memory, families and aging through the lens of an unforgettable protagonist who will seize your heart--an elderly woman descending into forgetfulness, as she embarks alone on a quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared.
     Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory--and her grip on everyday life. Notes fill her pockets and dot the walls of her home, increasingly crucial reminders of the immediate world. Most crucial is the fact that she can't find her only friend--Elizabeth has disappeared: she isn't answering the phone and doesn't seem to be at her house. Maud, convinced Elizabeth is in terrible danger, refuses to forget her even if her frustrated daughter, Helen, her carer, Carla, and the police won't listen and won't help. Armed with an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth desperately needs her help, Maud sets out to find her. And, unexpectedly, her search triggers an old and powerful memory of another unsolved disappearance--that of her sister, Sukey, who vanished more than 50 years ago, shortly after the Second World War.
     As long-ago memories emerge, Maud begins to uncover forgotten clues to her sister's disappearance and to piece together the mystery that has haunted her family for decades, discovering new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey's disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?
EMMA HEALEY grew up and still lives in London where she completed her first degree in bookbinding (learning how to put books together but not how to write them), which she followed with an MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Elizabeth Is Missing is her first novel. The author lives in London, England.
Title:Elizabeth Is MissingFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.54 × 6.06 × 1.09 inPublished:June 10, 2014Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345808304

ISBN - 13:9780345808301

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed It Very happy to have read the book
Date published: 2017-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great read! This book is compelling, oddly funny at times, and frustrating-in-a-good-way. If you've spent time with someone with dementia, this book will likely seem very familiar.
Date published: 2017-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read I was skeptical at first, but the two interwoven stories from past and present made for a good read. I really liked how the stories of the two missing women were paralleled and the ending proved satisfying enough. The book was a little dark, what with the harsh reality of dementia, but it was both interesting and frustrating to read in Maud's point of view.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elizabeth is Missing Loved this book. Best read in a very long time. I didn't want to put it down! The author did a fantastic job.
Date published: 2015-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elizabeth is Missing The author has an amazing talent. Unlike anything I've ever read. Have the courage to buy this incredible, experience.
Date published: 2015-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elizabeth is missing This is one of the most insiteful books I have ever read. The Author's insite is truly amazing. Really hopes she writes More.
Date published: 2015-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inside memory loss This is a must-read for anyone dealing with a loved one afflicted with cognitive deficits, especially Alzheimers. The author brilliantly brings inside the mind of an older woman who is losing her memory. It is utterly fascinating to experience the world from her point of view. Great lessons to learn here about dignity and avoiding the pitfalls of defining people by their illness. And beyond this, the book was hard to put down... I really wanted to know what the mystery was all about!
Date published: 2015-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A captivating story The portrayal of someone with dementia was accurate and well done. The past life story was interesting and reminds us of the fact that dementia chooses people like you and me, who one were young with different life challenges. A worthwhile read--relevant topic for many who are or will experience the huge challenges of this disease.
Date published: 2015-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A pleasure to read I enjoyed the storyline and the way this book was written. The author creatively told 2 stories by writing one in present day and the other through the main character, Maud's, memory of a time in her life from long ago. The fact that Maud is suffering from dimentia adds an interesting twist to this mystery. the story is rather slow moving but this is made up for with strong character development. Although it was sad to see Maud's dimentia progress and to witness it's impact on her everyday life and on her daughter, there were many comical moments throughout the book. I enjoyed Maud 's determination and feistiness. This book is a heart-warming, original read.
Date published: 2015-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A different take on a murder mystery This is an insightful look into the mind of an elderly lady, Maud, who has dementia. As she flips from present day to her childhood she unwittingly solves a murder mystery. Strangly compelling, Healey accurately conveys the utter confusion, anger and helplessness felt by Maud, only to be a hero in the end.
Date published: 2015-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! While telling of the heartbreak that is Alzheimers, a thrilling mystery unfolds. While maud can't remember a few seconds ago, she dwells in the haunted memories of her past. Her missing sister from post war era London. Loved it.
Date published: 2015-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Superb This book had me going back and forth trying to keep up with the author, anxious to know what would come next.
Date published: 2015-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved this book ! Got this as a Christmas gift !
Date published: 2015-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Who is Missing? I received a copy of this book as part of a GoodReads Giveaway contest. An elderly woman, Maud, cannot find her long time friend Elizabeth. She is also starting to loose her memory, but she does seem to remember that Elizabeth. The story is intertwinned with the story of her older sister who disappeared when Maud was a girl. The two stories seemed to be joined for some reason. Both mysteries are resolved at the end of the book. I enjoyed this book. I found it interesting that the author wasa able to present the point of view of someone who is loosing their memory. We can laugh at her reactions. We can also feel sadness at what she is loosing. We also get a sense of what the people around her are going through. Everyone reacts differently. I do wonder if that is what really is going through the minds of people loosing their memories. I don't really want to know for myself. I felt the character development in this book was very well done. It had to be this was a character driven plot. It did take a while for the story to play out. I recommend the book.
Date published: 2014-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book With my own mother suffering from dementia, I found this book to be very emotional, but very well worth the read. It made me more aware of what my Mother is going through, and certainly made me more understanding of her confusion. Maud's daughter was struggling to cope with her Mother's deterioration, but that is exactly what happens to the Carer's, and their frustration is due to helplessness more than anything. This is a beautifully written book, mingling Maud's past with her present, and you can see the downward spiral of Maud's condition. I never found the book to be depressing, as you can feel the love throughout between Maud, her Daughter and Granddaughter.
Date published: 2014-10-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from confusing I thought I would really love this book but was so disappointed with it. It is very frustrating to read and I only kept reading it because I was hoping that something would happen. I do not wish to be cruel but half way through the book I totally did not care if the main character ever found Elizabeth or her sister because it was so repetitive, over and over again. No wonder the main character's daughter was so frustrated. I just do not understand why this writer thought anyone else would be less than frustrated as well.
Date published: 2014-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elizabeth Is Missing What a great book! Mystery, suspense. If you would like to delve into the mind of someone with dementia, this book is a definite education of their journey. Beautiful
Date published: 2014-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant debut One of the best things about my job is being asked "What have you read that's really good lately?" Well, Emma Healey's debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing, is one title I'll be recommending over and over again this summer. I really, really loved this book. Okay, you loved it Luanne, now what's it about? Maud is in her eighties and is slowly but surely losing her memory, her ability to live alone and to take care of herself. But the one thing she cannot forget is her friend Elizabeth. Maud is convinced she is missing, no matter what her daughter Helen, her carers and Elizabeth's son Peter says. She need to find her - Elizabeth is missing. Maud writes many notes to remind herself to continue to look for Elizabeth. And she does, putting herself in harm's way and her daughter at her wit's end. But there is a second narrative as well, from Maud's past as a young girl in Britain, shortly after World II has ended. Maud is an unreliable narrator. As the past and the present become tangled in Maud's memory, the reader is not quite sure of what is truth, what is memory and what is what might have been. But as I read, I had suspicions creeping in...... It is difficult to watch Maud struggle with knowing she is losing her memory. She is determined to hand on to her pride, her dignity and independence. And desperate to know what has happened to Elizabeth. Healey's writing captures Maud's frustration, the lost time and the fear so well. But Healey does inject humour into Maud's life as well. She is a feisty soul. Her daughter Helen is just as well drawn and provides a real and touching look at the difficult, often painful role of being a child and/or a carer of someone with dementia or Alzheimer's. I thought Helen's granddaughter Katy was very well written as well. She jokes and laughs with her grandmother and loves her very much. I wonder if there's a bit of Healey written into Katy. Elizabeth is missing is both a mystery and a story of lives, heartbreaking, yet life affirming. Above all, it is a brilliant read, guaranteed to grab you and not let you go, even after the last page is turned. (have a tissue handy) Part of what made this book so poignant was Healey adding in part of her life and memories, with a nod to her grandmothers, Nancy and Vera. "It was a few months after she (Nancy) died, that I began to write Elizabeth is Missing in earnest, combining the exploration of dementia prompted by Nancy with some of the stories I'd collected from Vera." As I read, I too thought often of my own grandmothers, now both passed away. And it made me love the book even more.
Date published: 2014-06-30

Read from the Book

Prologue‘Maud? Was I boring you so much that you’d rather stand outside in the dark?’A woman calls to me from the warm light of a cluttered dining room. My breath curls towards her, wet and ghostly, but no words follow. The snow, sparse but bright on the ground, reflects the light on to her face, which is drawn tight in an attempt to see. I know, though, that she can’t see very well, even in the daylight.‘Come inside,’ she says. ‘It’s freezing. I promise I won’t say another word about frogs and snails and majolica ware.’‘I wasn’t bored,’ I say, realizing too late that she’s joking. ‘I’ll be there in a minute. I’m just looking for something.’ In my hand is the thing I’ve already found, still clotted with mud. A small thing, easily missed. The broken lid of an old compact, its silver tarnished, its navy-blue enamel no longer glassy but scratched and dull. The mildewed mirror is like a window on a faded world, like a porthole looking out under the ocean. It makes me squirm with memories.‘What have you lost?’ The woman steps, precarious and trembling, out on to the patio. ‘Can I help? I might not be able to see it, but I can probably manage to trip over it if it’s not toowell hidden.’I smile, but I don’t move from the grass. Snow has collected on the ridges of a shoeprint and it looks like a tiny dinosaur fossil freshly uncovered. I clutch at the compact lid in my hand, soil tightening my skin as it dries. I’ve missed this tiny thing for nearly seventy years. And now the earth, made sludgy and chewable with the melting snow, has spat out a relic. Spat itinto my hand. But where from? That’s what I can’t discover. Where did it lie before it became the gristle in the earth’s meal?An ancient noise, like a fox bark, makes an attempt at the edges of my brain. ‘Elizabeth?’ I ask. ‘Did you ever grow marrows?’

Bookclub Guide

1. What interesting and complex narrative effects result from Maud’s difficulty with her memory? How does the narrative shift between past and present affect the telling of the story? 2. What is the difference between something or someone being missing, lost, or gone? How does Maud struggle with these differences?3. What do you think prompts Maud’s repeated impulse to buy and consume food? Why the focus on tins of peaches? Why is this impulse a concern for her daughter and carers?4. To compensate for her gaps in memory, Maud relies on her “paper memory” and leaves herself notes as reminders. In what ways do the paper notes mimic her own scattered memory? What problems arise from this system?5. After her sister Sukey goes missing, young Maud impulsively collects random, found objects because she “couldn’t bear to walk past something that might be Sukey’s and not pick it up.” What meaning does Maud invest in these physical objects? What role do some key objects play in unraveling the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance?6. In the present, as Maud’s memory fails her more frequently and her grasp on language deteriorates, increasingly she finds comfort in physical objects: a silk glasses case from Elizabeth, Sukey’s compact case, and Patrick’s clothes to name a few. How do these objects help her piece together both the present and the past?7. Maud starts making mistakes while performing simple household tasks. When this happens in front of others she feels as though she’s “failed an important test” and thinks “a little piece of me is gone.” What do you think she means by this? Why is this change significant to her?8. Maud often compares the confusion caused by her failing memory with the post-war experiences in her childhood: being disoriented in her own neighbourhood, worrying about missing and disappeared friends, and the sense of being without food all echo back to this period. How do these two different scenarios of upheaval create such a similar effect on her life? How do they differ?9. The phrase “Elizabeth is missing” is constantly echoed by Maud throughout the novel as she struggles to discover (and remember) what’s happened to her friend. Why do you think Maud finds familiarity and relief in this phrase?10. As a girl, Maud is discouraged from mentioning Sukey’s name at home and finds solace in discussing her sister with Frank who “wanted to remember her properly, with words.” Given Maud’s later difficulty with words, how does she find ways to search for and remember her sister?11. Maud is often misunderstood, disregarded, and treated with impatience by the people in her town because of her difficulty with memory. Consider how this is similar to the town’s treatment of the mad woman, Violet, of Maud’s childhood. How does this behavior affect both women? And what does it mean that this behavior persists in both time periods?12. Maud frequently repeats words to herself to help her remember things, but admits that “the words begin to lose meaning and are like a chant.” How does this difficulty render the mundane and familiar strange? How does this type of everyday mystery add to the story?13. Against Sukey’s wishes, Frank keeps a glass dome filled with stuffed birds on the mantelpiece in their home. What is the significance of this display, and why do you think it inspires Sukey’s premonitory terror about being attacked? Why does Frank insist on keeping it?14. There are several allusions and references to fairy tales throughout the novel and Maud seems to unconsciously takes cues from these stories when she is feeling confused: for example, she imagines herself as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, waiting for visitors in her home. What other stories are referenced? How do you think they help Maud?15. Maud often finds herself digging in gardens, searching with a sense of purpose, but unable to remember why and what for. Why does she revert to this type of physical search?16. Helen takes on much of the responsibility of caring for her mother and has a difficult, often frustrating relationship with Maud. How does Maud’s relationship with her granddaughter Katy differ? How does this dynamic influence our understanding of Helen and Maud’s relationship?17. Frank and Douglas are two key figures in the disappearance of Sukey and, as a child, Maud deeply mistrusts them both. However, we discover that both are kind towards others in their own way. How does the resolution to Sukey’s disappearance affect your impressions of these characters?18. What, if anything, has changed for Maud in the story’s poignant ending?

Editorial Reviews

WINNER 2014 – Costa Book Awards—First NovelFINALIST 2015 – Desmond Elliott PrizeLONGLISTED 2015 – Bailey's Women's Prize for FictionLONGLISTED 2015 – International DUBLIN Literary Award “Elizabeth Is Missing will stir and shake you: an investigation into a seventy-year-old crime, through the eyes of the most likeably unreliable of narrators. But the real mystery at its compassionate core is the fragmentation of the human mind.” —Emma Donoghue, author of Room“I loved Elizabeth Is Missing. In this charmingly clever debut, Emma Healey delivers an empathetic twist on a classic detective tale. Her carefully observed sleuth, Maud, must outwit the trickiest and most elusive of all foes: Her own mind.” —Claire Cameron, author of The Bear  “Elizabeth Is Missing is a remarkably insightful and gripping debut novel. With consummate skill, Emma Healey portrays Maud as an aging grandmother and as a teenager during the war years in Britain.  The parallel stories about a missing friend and missing sister are equally convincing, flawlessly interwoven, and beautifully written with tenderness, truth and wisdom. The urgency of finding and putting together the pieces of life’s puzzles, whether their loss is due to fractured memory or adult secrets, is a universal dilemma, and it kept me riveted. I couldn’t put the book down until I read the last sentence, and I wondered how a writer still in her twenties could accomplish this feat of storytelling about the intensity of family ties and the deathless power of its love. I can’t wait to see what she does next.” —Lilian Nattel, author of Web of Angels “This novel genuinely is one of those semi-mythical beasts, the book you cannot put down.” —Jonathan Coe “Ingeniously structured and remarkably poignant, Elizabeth Is Missing is a riveting story of friendship and loss that will have you compulsively puzzling fact from fiction as you race to the last page. Immersed in the narrator’s increasingly fragmented world, the story questions the true meaning of memory and proves the enduring power of love.” —Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia  “A thrillingly assured, haunting and unsettling novel, I read it at a gulp.” —Deborah Moggach