"‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago...
Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son - not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.
Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.
Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.
Strange Companions is a debut novel about a mind in the grips of dementia. Simultaneously a fast-paced mystery and a moving meditation on memory and identity and told through Maud's unforgettable voice, it humanises a condition most of us find impenetrable and frustrating."
‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel about an elderly woman living with dementia.
Eighty-two year old Maud is an endearing old lady suffering from dementia. She can’t even remember things that happened a few hours ago and is constantly writing notes to herself, although half the time she doesn't know what they mean. When we first meet Maud she is still living in her own home. She has a carer come and visit her once a day and her daughter Helen visits every afternoon.
But one thing Maud does remember is that she can't get hold of her friend Elizabeth. At first Helen dismisses it saying that maybe Maud spoke to her and forgot about it, but Maud is completely convinced that Elizabeth is missing and no-one is doing anything about it.
Maud isn't living solely in the present. She keeps thinking back to 1946 when her sister Sukey went missing, and seems to be confusing the two events by sometimes thinking she is seeing people from her past (Frank and Douglas) in the present day.
Maud is a really sweet character and the book is told entirely from her perspective, so as readers we are only getting the bits of information that she is remembering. The fact that no-one else believes that Elizabeth is missing makes the reader think that Maud has been told what is going on but doesn't remember it, so we are trying to piece it all together as much as Maud is.
I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Maud’s past and I think it was great that the narrative of this book was split over the two time-zones. It was almost like two novels in one (although they were connected) with the mystery aspect of the flashbacks, and the emotional contemporary feel to the modern day part.
I think I went through almost every emotion while reading this novel. I really felt like I connected with all the characters and I completely fell in love with Maud. By the time I’d finished reading this I’d been through every emotion under the sun. The ending was just perfect and conclusive but still left me wanting more, like all good books do.
I would give this book 5 stars :)
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