I have got absolutely no idea what made me buy this book. I didn’t read the blurb, I hadn’t read any of the reviews, and the cover isn’t the most attractive. But when I did a book haul from Music Magpie, this was included on the buy one get one free, and I think I mainly got it because it was in the offer.
Ever since I first read Three Things About Elsie, I have been absolutely desperate to find a book that was similar. I loved reading about a woman with dementia, and I found that having a main character with dementia created a completely unique plot. I had started to think that there weren’t any more books out there like it, and that’s when I discovered Elizabeth is Missing.
It never says in the book that Maud has dementia – she is just easily confused and struggles to remember things. But it’s clear that she does, and after a doctor’s visit, it’s never confirmed, but it seems quite obvious what the doctor thought.
Maud finds cups of tea lined up, but she can never remember having made them. She has a kitchen full of tinned peaches that she is sure she hasn’t bought. But she is certain of one thing – her friend Elizabeth is missing, and nobody will listen to her.
From the start, it’s quite obvious that Elizabeth isn’t actually missing, and Maud is just struggling to understand and remember what has actually happened to Elizabeth. The title leads you to think that the whole book is about Elizabeth, but really the novel focuses a lot on Maud’s childhood in post-war England.
Even though Maud is confused over what is happening in the present, she has a good memory for the past, and especially the events surrounding her sister, Sukey, going missing.
I really loved Maud and it was horrible to see how confused she was. It was even worse to watch all the people who couldn’t understand what was happening, including the police who just laughed every time she went to report Elizabeth as missing.
In Maud’s past, there was a mad old woman who everyone ignored and Maud was scared of. Scarily, I think this old woman foreshadows Maud’s life. People looked at the mad old woman in the same way that people looked at Maud as she became more and more confused, and it is quite sad to see that attitudes haven’t changed at all from the 1940s.
The plot isn’t linear, and it jumps around a lot to follow Maud’s confusion, but I really liked this. I was actually getting inside the mind of Maud, and really seeing how her brain worked, even when she was really confused.
At the end, you get to see that every little thing Maud has said has meant something. Everyone around her has discounted everything she has to say because of her dementia, but you realise that even though she was confused, she knew what she was talking about. She didn’t always get the right words out for what she wanted to say, but she still managed to solve a mystery that everyone other than Maud had forgotten about.
I loved this book. It’s really amazing and is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. I’m over the moon that the BBC have bought the rights to it, and I really hope they go through and make an adaptation, because it will be groundbreaking.
Paperback, 275 pages, published by Penguin, £7.99