Over the months of July and August I was reading these books above and reviewing them for myself, Suffolk Book League (who also collaborate with Suffolk Magazine) and Waterstones/Amazon/Good Reads.
I had the pleasure of meeting Emma Healy in Ipswich Waterstones at the IpArt festival this year. An incredible author, she presented Elizabeth is Missing with such poignancy and quiet conviction. When she read an extract of her book and explained her inspirations for the story, I cried. Now, for me, that isn’t usual, but I couldn’t help but relate to Maud, Healey’s main character, who is suffering from the early stages of dementia and who consequently propelled me to my own memories of my Grandmother battling Alzheimer’s.
The story follows Maud, who’s slowly straying away from normal life. Her own family wont listen to her and her ramblings, let alone the police. When her focus solely encompasses the question “Where is my friend
Elizabeth?” we follow her down memory lane
with serious consequences quickly arising. Soon Maud is enveloped into both Elizabeth’s disappearance
and that of her sister Sukey, who disappeared back in World War II.
A riveting read, I found moving between Maud’s daily struggle, her search for Elizabeth and then memories of her sister Sukey very realistic but also propelling – the dynamics of the book were always moving, always propelling you to read on and learn more about both the present day and past mystery. What was also brilliant was seeing the differences and similarities between the two Mauds, young and old.
Not only on a personal level but as a writer, Healey goes after my own heart, focusing on the domestic details of scenarios to paint a bigger picture. How she has got completely into Maud’s head and with such conviction and strength in the voice, is brilliant – the constant reference to the old shopping list, tins of peaches, or how the material of her coat felt or the sounds within a cupboard sounded, takes us right into the heart of the situation with Maud.
Memory sits on a hinge and with it does the reader, eagerly learning who committed the crime all those years ago. I read this book in two days, I couldn’t put it down. It is incredibly enticing and along with Maud you feel the frustration of trying to collect thoughts and memories into something tangible to help solve this long standing mystery. I cannot recommend this book enough, it was so captivating and personal, it is beautifully written and has a real sadness to Maud’s predicament. It is one to read this year folks, for sure.