Costa First Novel Award Winner 2014
Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it.
She sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger. But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: Her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, Maud will get to the bottom of it.
©2014 Emma Healey (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
If you require a clear narrative in your detective fiction, you will not like this. The POV of a woman suffering from dementia makes it a very compelling and radically different type of storytelling. But I loved it. I fell in love with the character. My heart went out to her, and Anna Bentinck's narration was superb.
Beyond simply being a very innovative approach to narrative, it really gave me a perspective on people suffering from dementia. I'm never going to cluck my tongue at my mother again.
Love the outdoors and like to spirit a good book or audiobook into my pack. Live in the bush, grow much of my food and make stuff by hand.
As the daughter of a 91 year-old widow who still thinks her mind is sharp as a tack, I found this book particularly poignant. The author shows great insight into the mind of her heroine, its intertwining of past and present and the confusion of drifting between the two. The portrayal is sensitive and sympathetic, suggesting familiarity with the problems of encroaching dementia. The interwoven story of Maud's youth and the mystery which has left its mark on her emotions is wonderfully told and delightfully connected with her perceptions of the present day. Her distress at being unable to find her only friend, so important to older people who have lost just about everyone else in their lives, is very real. The conclusion to the mystery is a wonderful culmination to the book, which can have no happy endings. I enjoyed the way details of present objects led to recollections of the past and connected the two stories together.
The narration of this book was particularly outstanding. Anna Bentinck gave every character their own, recognisable voice and her portrayal of Maud, the central character, was sensitive and appropriate. I really enjoyed this book and would look for others by the author and narrator.
I have recommended this book to several of my friends and family.
Well, Maud of course, but also the granddaughter who was so kind to her when everyone else was treating her like a silly old woman. She didn't assume that Maud had lost her sense of humour just because she was old.
All of them! They were all well rounded characters and either lovable or loath-able (is that even a word?) The range of 'Maud voices' was very well done and gave great depth to the story.
Maud, Helen and Peter - was that man annoying or what! Such a pompous windbag - I wanted to give him a good slap!
The only thing that I kept on thinking was, why didn't Maud make a note of Elizabeth's whereabouts once she knew of them? She wrote everything else she wanted to remember down, but not that most important thing ... but then, there wouldn't have been this wonderful story.
"Elizabeth is missing"
One of the top stories I have listened to. two.women missing 50 years apart a whodunit with a difference!
The main character is searching for Elizabeth whilst suffering the beginnings of Dementia
Her reliance upon slips of paper to work as an aide memoir, dated but what happens when you don't remember the date or if you have already acted upon what's on the paper
Anna brings the characters and story to life with the feeling that you are a character within the story
The main characters narration and her sudden confusion as to who this woman in front of her is.
The story itself takes the listener into how it must be for somebody suffering from dementia and how sometimes she will recognise her daughter and grand daughter then suddenly wonder who these people are.
Although the character is suffering from dementia, the actual story is about two missing Somerset gif th years apart. It is a who done it with many red herrings and twists that when the story ends you are left wanting to remain and hear more.
Wonderful thought provoking enjoyable adventure
Never judge a book by its cover ....is so true of this book
Addictive - thought-provoking - mystery
That would give the story away!
I think her voice was just right. She got Maud's vocal age very well.
Both. Made me think a lot.
Look forward to another book!
Maud has dementia but whilst she struggles to remember what she needs to buy in the shops, where she lives or even fails to recognise her own daughter, she clings to her belief that something has happened to her best friend Elizabeth. The problem is she can't remember what she has found out and she keeps forgetting quite what she is trying to do. As she continues to try and find her missing friend, older memories haunt her and a much older mystery begins to rise to the surface.
This book had me hooked from the opening chapter. The whole story is told from Maud's point of view so we really share her confusion and empathise with her struggle to pull all the clues together. The narrator does a superb job, moving effortlessly between the elderly and younger Maud. I laughed out loud at times but was unbearably moved at others.
I can't recommend this book enough.
"Such a beautiful book"
In the absolute top.
The story line is both moving and gripping, the language flows easily and the desperation of the old woman looking for her missing friend is touching.
The reading is sublime - both the voices of the young and the old protagonist is perfectly narrated.
The story made me laugh out lough several times...and well up too.
A fascinating insight to somebody suffering from dementia, the narrator was superb with lots of different tonalities and accents giving the characters credence. The memories past and present were cleverly interwoven and only on the last chapter did one discover what had happened to Elizabeth.
"Compelling narrative beautifully read."
Gripping. Touching. Delicate
Undoubtedly Maude was my favourite character. I loved how the story switched from past to present. I became absorbed in her thought processes.
I heard Anna Bentinck before in The Bone Clocks and enjoyed her performance then. I was pleasantly surprised to come across her again. Fabulous reading. Full of sensitivity and character. I always knew who was talking and felt that she gave real and consistent authenticity to each personality.
I think I have enjoyed this book the most out of all the ones I have listened to so far. In my opinion the only thing that lets it down is the epilogue which I felt added nothing to the plot.
"gripped me from the beginning"
without a doubt,
The story itself is intriguing and caught my attention immediately. However the narration is beyond fantastic and brings the novel to life for me, The way that Anna Bentinck distinguishes between Maud and Mops is subtle but oh so effective - bravo!!
Maud - although there were times when I had to step back and try to see things from Cara and Helen's point of view and realised what a difficult situation they are in.
No but will def seek them out
many tear jerkers - mostly throw away lines about Maud's relationship with HER mother or with Helen when she was a child - caught me quite unawares.
"Insighful, poignant, moving"
Possibly - I don't normally listen to the same book twice
There were many moments that made me laugh out loud, usually when Maud found herself in strange places or with unfamiliar objects
Beautiful narration, good use of voice for each of the different characters
Unearthed memories. I hope it is made into a film - with Judy Dench as Maud!
Having cared for my mother-in-law, who had dementia and Parkinsons, for 5 years, I can completely relate to the main characters Maud and her daughter Helen. I feel sure that Emma Healey must have had first hand experience of dementia to have written this book so poignantly. A must-read for anyone with a relative who is slowly descending into the confusion and frustration that is dementia - it will help them to be patient and understanding with their loved one and to realise the level of help they will need.
"Sensitive subject brought to life"
The sense of the main character's decline across the book, and the anxiety it brings out in the reader was incredibly deft and sensitively and accurately done.
Pretty wayward, but the world created most reminded of Franz Kafka's The Trial, with a single character roaming round and trying to make sense of the authorities. Except here, in this rather lighter-than-Kafka book, everyone is smiling and being kind to our central character, which is somehow just as claustrophobic.
That where the central character was housed at her daughter's house, and her granddaughter started to take care of her.
I think in the early stages, when Healey is setting out early instances of the main character's condition, when she comes to put a cup of tea down for a moment, and finds a row of cold cups of tea already there. Such a mournful, simple, beautifully rendered moment.
I feel I should point out one or two weaknesses: the scenes with Elizabeth's overbearing son did not ring true, and I feel the narrator really struggled with these,
"Really engaging story"
This book works really well in audio, you get a real sense of the spiral into dementia of the main character, and her desperately trying to hang on to shreds of sense.
A real split between the old and new Elizabeth and a sense of how horrendous it is to start to lose your mind, by the way she jumps between past and present and repetition of the past.
This book really made me think about what it is like to get old and start losing your memories.
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