A few weeks ago, popcultureboy wrote an intriguing review about a new mystery called Elizabeth is Missing. He sold me on it in his very first paragraph, in his descriptions of the extremely forgetful narrator, Maud. And I know, I’m definitely on a popcultureboy-recommended book kick these days. Thanks.
Maud is an octogenarian, living on her own, but with daily “carers” coming in to help her out. Maud is clearly suffering from some sort of Alzheimer’s-like malady and simply can’t get by on her own any longer. She starts to make a cup of tea, and then walks away. She goes for a walk, and finds herself lost. She often can’t even remember her own daughter’s name. But she does know one thing: she hasn’t seen her friend Elizabeth in quite some time. Maud is convinced Elizabeth is missing.
Maud’s attempts to find out what has happened to her friend are often heartbreaking and tough to read. Maud would write herself notes, to help remind her of the clues she had uncovered so far — but then couldn’t remember when or where she had written the notes. She would make phone calls and lists, but then wouldn’t remember that she had done it.
I’m going to be honest, Maud’s scenes in the present filled me with dread. Dread that someday I might end up like Maud, or worse, that someone that I love will end up that way.
But Maud’s detective work only makes up half of the story. In the other half, Maud loses herself in memories of her sister, sukey. Sukey disappeared in the 1940s under very mysterious circumstances, and Maud never gave up hope that she might find out what had happened to her beloved sister.
Maud’s memories of the events that took place almost 70 years prior were sharp and detailed, a distinct contrast to her day-to-day doings. But somehow, the two stories and two narrative voices blend together to paint a complete picture of Maud — who she was and who she became.
All in all, a wonderful mystery from a talented author. Difficult to read at times, but totally worth it in the end.
My one complaint? The US hardcover had none of the charm that the UK version had.