Elizabeth is Missing is one that absolutely earns the 4.5 audio book rating – one where it is highly, highly recommended to listen to the audiobook- as the performance provided by Anna Bentinck, is honestly marvelous.
Anna nails Maude’s 82 year old voice and yet, there are also parts of the story where Maude flashes back to when her sister Sukie disappears, and Anna effortlessly switches her voice to sound like that of the much younger Maud. Not only that, she also nails those frustrated, impatient voices from all those that have to deal with elderly Maud, the one that is the muddled, confused, and lost person. It’s completely brilliant. (I also have the feeling that listening to the audio may help to alleviate some of the frustration some felt in following the line of Maud’s thoughts when she is in this muddled and confused state. I never experienced one moment of frustration or confusion as to what was happening or unfolding, just utterly immersed in listening to her story.)
Elizabeth is Missing really holds two storylines/mysteries: the one, as named in the title, is where the elderly Maud amidst her most confused moments, constantly repeats this mantra of “Elizabeth is missing”. Elizabeth is her best friend and Maud is convinced she is missing and more than likely her only son is responsible for her disappearance. Maud riffles through countless numbers of little notes she writes as reminders to herself, and most repeated is the one containing the question about Elizabeth. This is a question she repeats aloud over and over and over again, much to the consternation of her carers, her daughter, Peter – Elizabeth’s son, the police and anyone else she can get to listen to her and her pleas to find Elizabeth.
Mixed and muddled into Maud’s confusion and concern as to the whereabouts of Elizabeth, are her flashbacks to the time in 1946, when her sister Sukey (Susan) disappeared. Added to her notes and ramblings is Maud’s repetition of “where is the best place to plant marrows?” This is just one more question that sends Maud’s daughter into fits of impatience with her mother. Maud herself is both confused and frustrated by these two disappearances. Is she confusing the disappearance of her sister with that of Elizabeth? What exactly happened to Sukey and is Elizabeth truly missing?
As one reviewer stated, so succinctly: “The suspense of both mysteries are well maintained through out the novel and the past and present narratives flow seamlessly into each other. Despite the distressing nature of Maud’s illness there are also moments of humour which helps to temper the bleak realities.
A clever and compelling novel, I thought Elizabeth is Missing was an engrossing read with an unforgettable protagonist.”
Certainly, you are left to run all possible solutions to the two mysteries and you are left unprepared for the reality of what happened to Sukie and to Elizabeth. A wonderful and tautly written mystery with a heartwarming and unforgettable main character.
It’s brilliant all around because 1.) you have Emma Healey that looks like this, or is only “this many” (she’s in her 20s) old, and has written about Maud, and her struggles with dementia with absolute, complete and total perfection.
and then 2.) she’s gifted us with this story, but also with this perfect voice of a woman that is “this many” old:
This lovely video about a mother recognizing her daughter for a few lucid moments, was making the rounds earlier this year, and was popping up around the time I was reading Elizabeth is Missing. I thought it apt to include here.
Elizabeth is Missing is certainly one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to this year. I’ve been recommending it ever since I finished it quite sometime ago to both my Hoarder gals. To further encourage them, I’ve handed over my Audible account information so they can access it! Thanks do first go out to Random House Canada for providing us with a copy of Elizabeth is Missing to review (and also in ebook format via Netgalley), but when I discovered it was available in audio format, I quickly chose that version. I couldn’t be more thrilled with my decision to go with that version.