This book has left me dumbfounded. I loved Emma Healey's writing style, and I loved how she managed to portray an elderly woman living with dementia so clearly, and with such clarity about how dementia is affecting Maud (the elderly woman), while leaving you unsure about what is happening, and on top of all this, having a spare moment for a splotch of hidden humour. I will be honest with you - you are reading this long after I read the book, and I wrote this review about 2 weeks after reading the book. I'll also let you in on something else - I loved the book (that is not the secret, we already know that), but I would give it not five stars, but four, simply because I am pessimistic sometimes and despite my love for it am convinced that it could have been better (although I know it could not possibly have been, and applaud Emma Healey for writing such a feat of literature).
Maud is old and alone, except for when her daughter visits her everyday, and when her caretaker takes care of her. But as Maud grows forgetful in her old age, she often does not remember these visits, and feeling isolated she reaches out for her best friend, Elizabeth, by going to her house or giving her a call - but as of recently, Elizabeth hasn't been home, and she hasn't been picking up the phone. Entangled within the confusion about the whereabouts of her best friend is the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Maud's own sister, Sukey, who went missing strangely. Maud can't figure out what happened to her best friend, and as Maud's memory continues to fail her, the only thing she remains certain of - despite her daughter protestations - is that Elizabeth is missing. And that Maud must find her. But as Maud's gray matter grows increasingly forgetful, she can't even remember the clues she finds - and the paper notes she leaves as hints for herself are not helpful - how can she expect to defeat such a powerful opponent as her own mind in solving two mysteries that only get trickier the further she gets into them?
And I won't say anymore about the plot of the story - and I wish I hadn't even had to say that much as it is a book that would probably be the best to go into knowing nothing, to be plunged straight into Maud's world of everyday confusion. I was so excited leading up to the release of this book that I read everything I could about the book prior to actually getting a copy of it, and I feel that because of my knowledge about the book, all this information I knew about it, lead to my not enjoying the book as much as I could have (and that is saying something, since I spent almost every spare moment I had reading this book, I was so interested).
Looking over my review so far, for not knowing what to say at first, I sure have said quite a bit!
Anyways, I really liked the book, and once I get home this is definitely getting a place of honour on my bookself, right beside the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (although this book is in no way comparable to either of those books - I just really liked those as well). It was a read that I could not put down, yet every few chapters forced myself to, just so that I could compute what was happening, since I was reading through it so quickly in my excitement. The difficulty of deciding what was happening for the main parts of the story (where is Elizabeth, and what happened to Sukey?) leaves you with a feeling that just gets 'curiouser and curiouser', to quote a certain Alice that most people love, straight up until the unforeseen ending.
It is not a light read, but it is not a read only fit for the book readers that are equivalent in 'reading fitness' (if I may use that expression) to those people who are in the gym 24/7, pushing themselves to new extremes, either. It is a nice book that makes you think, and personally, I appreciate that. Emma Healey is a good writer, and I do think I will be reading Elizabeth is Missing once again in short order, and the moment that Emma Healey publishes another book, I am probably going to get it as soon as humanly possible.
One last note before I close off this review: in the beginning of the story, Emma Healey presents us with a short and fairly simple grocery list of (I think) three items for Maud to go and get, and it was written out so well that by the time Maud had to remember the items, I myself could barely remember them.
Now, I truly do not think I have any more to say about this (great) book that you should (no, you must) read.
So farewell for now,