I finished Elizabeth is Missing a while ago, but I’ve only just found time to write this, so here we go:
This book intrigued me from the start. In White Stuff, a shop in Cardiff, there’s a mini library where you can read books for a bit while your companion or companions try on clothes, and there were a gazillion copies of this book. So I read part of it. I was quite interested.
A year later my mother bought it for my auntie for her birthday, as she requested it and I’d said it looked good, and all was well.
However, she hated it.
There were no hard feelings, just a sense of disappointment when you expect so much from a book and you don’t see the appeal. So Mum decided to read it.
However, she also hated it.
I was conflicted. They were convinced it dragged and couldn’t commit to reading the story. Although they both finished it they seemed to regret ever thinking about it.
So naturally, I picked it up.
I quite enjoyed it.
Sure, it wasn’t the best book I’ve read, but it was definitely not the worst.
I love a good book that brings to light things that people would not normally understand or even notice, in a way that isn’t offensive but at the same time doesn’t play down the severity of the issue.
This book is about a now elderly lady who suffers from dementia, who is convinced her friend is missing. It’s written in a way that left me feeling sympathetic but also incredibly frustrated. You feel irritated that she’s trying to cling onto independence when she obviously needs help, yet you feel her pain when her daughter gets angry at her when she’s only trying to help, or have some sense of freedom. You notice that she is treated more like a child than an adult, and with all those years of life behind you, you’re far more developed and intelligent than a child. Yet at the same time you can no longer thrive alone. It must be heartbreaking. As someone with elderly grandparents I’ve watched them get weaker as their health has gotten worse and both my parents have had to step in more and more to make sure they have everything they need, with varying results.
Dementia must be a different story altogether.
The ending is also something that would seem unusual to us, but perfectly reasonable for someone with dementia. The revelation was unexpected to me, but the closure was messy and I was left feeling a little confused despite it being a standalone story. The mystery was unraveled almost instantly once the revelation was unfolded but at the same time it was incredibly complex. Was that the intention? I know something else that’s a little confusing and that’s the human brain, so that could explain a lot. We have a habit of overcomplicating things and being melodramatic, which is reflected in the situations Maud faces.
One thing I do admire though is the fact that the protagonist is far from perfect. Most books aim to make the protagonist a role model and an almost flawless character who makes mistakes but is overall enviable and admirable. Here it is most definitely not the case, and although Maud can be seen as endearing and even funny at times, it seems like she’s more of a nuisance than the hero in this book.
That is what makes it intriguing, and that is why I like it.
What are your thoughts?