Maud has dementia. She’s forgetful and confused, her thoughts slipping between the present and the past, and sometimes – often – mixing up the two.
In order to remember, Maud writes herself notes, and her notes tell her that Elizabeth is not answering her phone, and is never home when Maud visits, and through the story we get the exasperated conversations with Elizabeth’s son, who refuses to tell Maud anything. She’s convinced he is involved, desperate to get his hands on his inheritance.
This disappearance triggers memories of Sukey, Maud’s sister, who disappeared without a trace 70 years earlier.
I loved this story! ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ is Emma Healey’s first novel, and is so skillfully done – Maud is the protagonist, and the story is told in first person, so her life and experience of the world unfolds before us in all it’s confusion, and yet the story is so well written that the reader is never (or rarely) confused, and the synchronicity of events that leads to both mysterious disappearances being solved doesn’t feel contrived. Highly recommended!
This is a bit different to my usual read. I don’t usually read memoir, but I’ve heard Tony talk about his book a couple of times now, and he read a section of his book out at the Little Laneway Festival, in November last year, and I had to read more.
The story is heartbreaking. Tony and his wife Sue are travelling through South America when Sue suffers from a brain aneurysm while they’re in Bolivia. Bolivia is a poor country, and so of course it’s hospitals are not equipped as well as the hospitals Tony is used to, here in Australia.
Even when Tony manages to break through the language barriers and make it understood that his wife needs a hospital, it takes time to get her there, and as the weeks drag on it’s uncertain whether she will ever leave.
From the start, Tony’s writing propels the reader back to that terrifying moment when his wife has a seizure in the bed beside him, and carries the reader back and forward through his and Sue’s history, and the painfully long 14 weeks before Sue can finally come home, now suffering from a condition very much like dementia, putting Tony in a new role of carer.
Extremely well written, I highly recommend this story.