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[personal profile] alobear
The next Family Book Club book, chosen by my mum, is Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey.

It's written in the first person, from the point of view of Maud, who is in her eighties and has difficulties remembering things, and often gets confused about where she is, what she's doing, and who people are. The two things she's sure of are that her friend Elizabeth is missing, and something bad happened to her sister, Sukey, in 1946. It's a very effective portrayal of what it must be like to suffer from dementia. The narrative is masterfully to allow the reader to inhabit Maud's experience, but also understand all the things she does not. It also interweaves the 1940s storyline very cleverly to gradually reveal Maud's childhood and the events around her sister's disappearance.

The quote from the Observer on the back describes the book as "darkly comic", but I found it desperately sad and incredibly frightening. I was very tense a lot of the time when actually reading the book, and it also left me with a lingering sense of anxiety. I also realised partway through that there was no way for it to end happily - even if the reader is given the solution to the various mysteries, they will always be denied to Maud, as she won't remember what's been discovered.

The mystery aspects were initially intriguing, but I did guess all three reveals (the location of Elizabeth, the identity of the 'mad woman', and what happened to Sukey), but the whole story still kept me gripped throughout.

I did feel very sorry for Maud, but even more so for her daughter, Helen, and what she has to put up with as her mother deteriorates.

I would definitely recommend the book, as it's really excellent - but with a caution warning that it's not an easy read and overall I found it very upsetting.

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