Elizabeth is Missing
by Emma Healey
American pastor and author Ben Reaoch recently wrote an article on the subject of spiritual amnesia saying that ‘the way the human memory works (and doesn’t work) is a mysterious thing.’ He describes how his grandmother died in 2010 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Emma Healey’s novel, Elizabeth is Missing, was also inspired by her own grandmothers one of whom suffered from dementia. She approaches the subject through the character of the elderly Maud, who is self-confessedly ‘a bit forgetful’. Convinced that her friend Elizabeth is missing she valiantly attempts to solve the mystery while simultaneously experiencing increasing memory malfunction.
Maud’s carer Carla, her daughter Helen, Elizabeth’s offensive son, Peter and even the police fail to take her concern seriously. Or so it seems to Maud. There never was a more unreliable narrator and yet one whose own internal dialogue is strangely eloquent. “My left side feels suddenly chilly where she was sitting against it. A current of cold water in a warm sea’. Details are minutely observed as are her lucid recollections of the past. Continue reading