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Elizabeth Is Missing | [Emma Healey]

Elizabeth Is Missing

In this darkly riveting debut novel - a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging - an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, June 2014 - Elizabeth Is Missing is a captivating and original debut novel from author Emma Healey. It’s told from the perspective of Maud, a lovable but forgetful 82-year-old woman whose grip on reality is slowly slipping away. She’s convinced herself that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing, and sets out on a scattered crusade to uncover the truth behind the disappearance. As Maud’s memory of the present fades, her past becomes more vivid and soon her efforts to find Elizabeth uncover clues to the mystery of her sister Sukey’s disappearance more than half a century earlier. The story comes together in the form of a methodically crafted jigsaw puzzle – sporadically transitioning from past to present and fully immersing the listener into the fragmented and terrifying experience of dementia. —Regina, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

In this darkly riveting debut novel - a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging - an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory - and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend, Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud - not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more 50 years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

©2014 Emma Healey (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (144 )
5 star
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4.2 (127 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amber 07-09-14
    Amber 07-09-14 Member Since 2013

    I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A contemporary mystery for non-mystery lovers."

    This was an interesting mystery. It is interesting because the investigation is pursued by Maud, an 82-year-old British woman suffering from advanced dementia. Poor Maud. She is confused and sometimes she knows why, but mostly she is just confused. Maud insists to her daughter, Helen, and everyone around her that her friend, Elizabeth, is missing. As one could guess, Maud’s search runs her around in circles and involves many written notes to herself. It also finds her in precarious situations that are maybe a bit dangerous for her. At the same time, another story is being told of Maud’s older sister, Sukey, who goes missing when Maud is a girl. The book switches back and forth between Maud searching for Elizabeth and Maud recounting the story of the search for Sukey. There is entertainment and heartbreak to be had in watching Maud untangle the web of Elizabeth’s disappearance and in watching Sukey’s story unfold. It was quite interesting to see the author’s perspective on what may be going on in the mind of one who has severe memory loss. I don’t know if the author got it right, but what she delivered was very believable. As the book progresses, so does Maud’s memory loss and sometimes she was able to glimpse this decline. To me, those were interesting moments. As a reader, I felt the pain and frustration of Helen, Maud’s daughter, in dealing with the physical and emotional care of Maud. Maud could be a bit frustrating at times because she was always repeating herself, but I fell in love with her anyway because of her determination to find Elizabeth and because of her pain in losing Sukey and all those emotions that go along with that. I have to admit that I was more captivated in finding out what happened to Sukey than Elizabeth, but I was also second guessing myself on the “whodunit” and the “what happened” the whole way through the book. This is not a fast paced read. It is entertaining, but not action packed. I know this sounds weird, but I think this is a mystery that non-mystery fans will appreciate more than mystery fans themselves. The narrator was spot on for this role. She related a good young Maud and a good old Maud.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina-Audible USA 06-27-14
    Regina-Audible USA 06-27-14 Member Since 2008

    Audible editor and data evangelist. Lover of fiction, classics, celebrity memoirs, and quirky teen novels.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Captivating and Original Debut"

    Elizabeth Is Missing is a captivating and original debut novel from author Emma Healey. It’s told from the perspective of Maud, a lovable but forgetful 82-year-old woman whose grip on reality is slowly slipping away. She’s convinced herself that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing, and sets out on a scattered crusade to uncover the truth behind the disappearance. As Maud’s memory of the present fades, her past becomes more vivid and soon her efforts to find Elizabeth uncover clues to the mystery of her sister Sukey’s disappearance more than half a century earlier. The story comes together in the form of a methodically crafted jigsaw puzzle – sporadically transitioning from past to present and fully immersing the listener into the fragmented and terrifying experience of dementia.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 09-01-14
    Linda 09-01-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a needed and not often seen perspective"
    Would you listen to Elizabeth Is Missing again? Why?

    I don't re-listen to stories but I'm sure if I ended up doing so, I would still enjoy it.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Elizabeth Is Missing?

    The kindness of the characters and the message the story leaves the reader with


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Let us not assume


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathi 06-16-14
    Kathi 06-16-14 Member Since 2010

    Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Poignant mystery novel"

    Emma Healey has written a very unusual novel that is also a mystery story. Maud is an aging woman, whom we quickly realize is losing her memory (and to a slight degree, her identity). However, there are bits and pieces of memory that are intact--one being that she is seeking her friend Elizabeth. To attempt to keep herself focused, she writes endless notes, and when people (like her daughter) do notice she is not recalling things accurately, is quick to try to justify to herself, and cover up to others, for her lapses. As she is seeking Elizabeth, things begin to unroll in a unexpected way, and she starts to get in touch with memories of the disappearance of her sister Sukey, at the end of WWII.

    This book is a clever way to have a protagonist who is solving mysteries--perhaps the most unique approach I've seen in a long while. But what is far more moving about the book is Healey's ability to convey the frightening and confusing experience of aging, lacking the ability to keep things in mind, desperate to get the attention of others who often don't believe her because of the confused way she presents her thoughts.

    If you like mysteries, this is quite good. But if you are looking for a very compelling, emotionally gripping novel, this is excellent. Many people face a future like Maud's as part of aging, and boldly bringing this experience to the pages of this book was courageous, and evokes quite a sense of compassion for any of us who do or might someday struggle with these issues. Highly recommend.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Summerville, Sc 10-22-14
    Amazon Customer Summerville, Sc 10-22-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Good Read"
    If you could sum up Elizabeth Is Missing in three words, what would they be?

    Story was a surprise


    Which character – as performed by Davina Porter – was your favorite?

    I didn't have a favorite person.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    First of all, I thought this was a book concerning a kidnapping. Instead, it narrated an Alzheimer patient looking for a missed person. I was deeply moved by the sorrow of her family and the continued stress of the afflicted patient.


    Any additional comments?

    As a retired Long Term Care Nurse and Administrator, my nursing career was in nursing homes. Alzheimer's was a very common diagnosis. This book demonstrated how a person with the disease viewed their reality. I intend to listen to the story again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Minor Indiana/USA 10-09-14
    P. Minor Indiana/USA 10-09-14 Member Since 2002
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    "Disturbing"

    As a woman rapidly approaching 70, I did find this novel compelling and also disturbing as a very accurate look into the decline of an elderly person's ability to even control his own thought processes. The "mystery" is the least important part of this story. The story of the gradual breakdown in the character's personality is far more interesting. Having been responsible for the care of my childless aunt who was stricken with Altzheimer's, I can now better appreciate why she acted the way she did and why nothing I did made any difference at all.
    Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Firebolt 08-14-14
    Firebolt 08-14-14 Member Since 2011
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    "A great story but hard to get through"
    Any additional comments?

    A very good story especially if you are or have gone through the issues of dementia and Alzheimer's with a loved one. It truly goes into the mind of an Alzheimer's patient - it helped me understand how or what they are thinking. Hard to get through, though. I almost put it down several times because of my frustration with the main character ...I simply cannot imagine what a caregiver goes through when caring for someone with dementia. Truly insightful on the author's part.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 08-02-14
    Robin 08-02-14
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    "A tour de force!"

    The story is told by Maude who is increasingly suffering from dementia. Talk about an unreliable narrator! But because we hear what is happening in her brain, we understand that everything makes a kind of sense, other people just don't see those connections. This book made me want to be more patient with and interested in my aging relatives.

    The narration is brilliant. The great Davina Porter captures the many sudden mood changes and confusions while keeping the heroine relatable. Also there are parts of the story that are early memories, and Porter changes her voice enough so that she is still Maude but a younger one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jackie Guthrie Louisville, KY United States 07-14-14
    Jackie Guthrie Louisville, KY United States 07-14-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Compelling"

    This is a beautifully written book. It is written from the point of view of a woman dealing with dementia. The author subtly shows the progression of the disease. I was fully immersed in this story. The performance was remarkable. I could tell from the narrator's tone, which character was speaking. There was even a distinction between the main character and her younger self.
    I highly recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Twin Cities, MN 07-16-14
    Amazon Customer Twin Cities, MN 07-16-14 Member Since 2001

    Audio Book Fiend

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I really wanted to like this book"

    I debated whether to purchase this book, and decided I really wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get through half. It was just too difficult to follow through the memory loss and it was depressing to me as I get older to think about experiencing the same challenges.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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