Today’s featured book is an ARC I’m reading…and enjoying. Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, is a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging…
“Maud? Was I boring you so much that you’d rather stand outside in the dark?”
A woman calls to me from the warm light of a cluttered dining room. My breath curls towards her, wet and ghostly, but no words follow. The snow, sparse but bright on the ground, reflects the light on to her face, which is drawn tight in an attempt to see. I know, though, that she can’t see very well, even in the daylight.
“Come inside,” she says. “It’s freezing. I promise I won’t say another word about frogs and snails and majolica ware.”
“I wasn’t bored,” I say, realizing too late that she’s joking. “I’ll be there in a minute. I’m just looking for something.” In my hand is the thing I’ve already found, still clotted with mud. A small thing, easily missed. The broken lid of an old compact, its silver tarnished, its navy-blue enamel no longer glassy but scratched and dull. The mildewed mirror is like a window on a faded world, like a porthole looking out under the ocean. It makes me squirm with memories.
Teaser: “The bath is filthy,” she says as I come into the kitchen. “And there’s a big lot of dirt on the lawn. What have you been doing?”
I wince at the question. Why is it I can remember the garden and the soil and the dew, but none of the reasons for being there? (p. 71).
Amazon Description: Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.
But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.
This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.
As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?
What do you think? Would you keep reading? I know that I am loving it, even as I feel frustrated for Maud…and annoyed with the people in her life who dismiss her, not giving any credence to her quest for her friend.