RAD Book Club review: Elizabeth is Missing

13 Jan 2016

RAD Book Club reactions to Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey were very positive.

Everyone enjoyed the light-heartedness surrounding the difficult subject matter of dementia. Healey has written a harrowing, yet witty novel and many aspects of the book had been recognisable to Book Clubmembers who have had personal experiences of relatives with dementia. We agreed that this novel raises awareness of dementia to the wider population, but also shows us the day-to-day struggles that people with dementia go through themselves, as well as their relatives and carers.

Our discussion mainly focused on Maud’s loss of independence which gradually increases as the novel progresses. We found this one of the most upsetting parts of the book; as one member commented ‘just because she’s old, doesn’t mean she’s obsolete!’ There was an overall feeling that although Maud was aware of her condition, she was determined to carry on being a necessary part of society, and this dogged determination brought warmth to the narration which we enjoyed.

There may be two different ways in which Maud’s story can be read. Firstly, as a representation of a true story. We felt that this perspective made the novel more disturbing, but also relevant to today’s need for further awareness of dementia. The alternative is to read the novel as a fairy story, where the characters’ actions are not supposed to be realistic. This second interpretation was preferred as most members felt the ending wasn’t very believable.

The ending was found to be somewhat disappointing. Some members of the group felt satisfied that the mystery was solved, and Maud had been edging correctly towards something all along, while other members felt that the end was too convenient. Especially the section where Helen, Maud’s daughter, seems to just snap and does something completely out of character which resolves the whole plot!

Overall, RAD Book Club felt that Elizabeth is Missing was one of the best books so far, and really enjoyed the discussion, as well as the jammy dodgers!