This is the first book I read in what I consider ‘summer mode’. Do you find your reading tastes/expectations change when summer comes around? I do. I want to read mysteries, YA, contemporary more than classics and the ‘buzz’ books of the season. I think it’s all so fun. Elizabeth is Missing is definitely a buzz book. I’ve been hearing good things about it for months now and it is the #1 LibraryReads pick for June.
The entire novel is told from the viewpoint of Maud, a woman in her seventies who has dementia. Is she the ultimate unreliable narrator or is her friend Elizabeth really missing? She hasn’t seen her friend in months and on the many notes she keeps to jog her memory she finds she’s written the phrase ‘Elizabeth is missing’ over and over again. She tells her frustrated daughter Helen, calls Elizabeth’s son in the middle of the night, even goes to the police department many times to report the disappearance. In the midst of her forgetting and then suddenly remembering that she doesn’t know where Elizabeth is, her mind dwells in the past, in her teenage years.
Maud was a teen during the post-war years in England when her young married sister Sukey disappeared from home. She and her parents searched and waited, always suspecting Sukey’s husband of hurting her, yet there was no evidence and he seemed just as devastated as they were. The police believed Sukey purposefully ran away and couldn’t devote any man hours to investigating.
As the two parts of Maud’s memory weave together, seamlessly moving forward, there is doubt that these events are true. Did Sukey really disappear, is Elizabeth missing? After all, Maud can’t even remember where she is half the time – is she accurately portraying these dismaying events?
This is a clever and very tightly written novel that propels the reader forward, desperately wondering if either or both of these mysteries will be solved. Though it’s much slower paced than a typical mystery novel it summons just as much suspense and that eerie and subtle feeling of dread that the best thrillers contain. I marvel at Healey’s ability to make both the past and present storylines compelling and to create such smoothly flowing transitions between them.
Elizabeth is Missing was a great start to my summer reading. It will be published this week in the UK and Australia and next week in the US.
Do you already have plans for your summer reading?
8 thoughts on “Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey”
Sounds like a perfect start for the summer reading season!
It was – I am on a roll now!
This sounds like a good mystery. I agree seeing the sun more recently has given me a hankering for a mystery or a thriller.
Yes, there’s something about sunny days that = suspense, thrillers or romance to me.
Oh this sounds so good. I will add it to my summer reading list! I adore mysteries.
This is a good mystery for those of us who love British stuff and WWII history – it really ticks our boxes.
I haven’t got ANY bookish habits that are different in the summer from other times. The only thing I can think of is that I quite often reread the Harry Potter series in the summer — but I think this is just a habit formed when the books were still coming out, and they’d come out in July, so I’d reread the series in June to refresh my memory before the new one came out.
This sounds GREAT — just the right mix of suspenseful and uncertain.
Oh, I remember those wonderful Junes of Harry Potter anticipation….
Maybe my book habits aren’t as different as I think they are in summer but I do get book buzz fever and want to read everything on all the summer reading lists so it feels like things are different.
This book IS good – a thoughtful mystery without gore, which is my kind of mystery.