Elizabeth is Missing

“Where is the best place to plant marrows?”

Well, who wouldn’t want to read about a crime solving grandma?

Maud is a lovely little old lady who has seriously misplaced her marbles. She regularly forgets where she is, why she’s there and what she was doing it for, so in order to make better sense of her days Maud writes little notes to herself of all of the things she’s meant to remember, like not to cook eggs because she forgets to turn the gas off, that she doesn’t need to buy more peaches, and that she STILL hasn’t seen any sign of Elizabeth, her friend. But Mauds family are used to her jumbled thought and preoccupation with the past, and so turn a deaf ear on Maud’s attempts to make sense of a long forgotten mystery that still haunts her. To the authorities Maud is no more than a batty, old woman harassing them with imaginary problems and she realises that if she is to solve either of these potential crimes, she’ll have to to it alone, if only she can remember to.

I lost my own grandmother recently, and this book not only made me painfully aware of how easily dismissed the elderly are in the same way that children can be, but of how scary it must be to very slowly and subtly not be able to trust your own memory. Maud’s account is told to us in the first person, and Healey tells it so well, I felt exhausted for Maud and the fact she in the end couldn’t even turn to the police, her doctor, her daughter and be taken seriously. It’s difficult to make sense I her account of events, as they’re so confused with things that haven’t happened for decades and things that haven’t happened at all and so we get an incredibly authentic experience of what it must be like to live with such a confused memory. I very much enjoyed this aspect if the book, and it has definitely taught me to have more patience with my own grandparents when they insist on telling me the same story repeatedly, but I found the actually mystery elements of the book a bit dull.



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