Saturday, 28 February 2015

52 Books In 52 Weeks Challenge Week 8

Week 8, the end of another month and another book read, actually two books read this week.
A few weeks ago we were in London for my husband's birthday and were in one of my favourite London haunts, Daunt Books. There I spotted "Elizabeth Is Missing"  by Emma Healey. Well my bestie is called Liz. To everybody else she is called Liz but her mother insisted she be called Elizabeth, so Liz to most people, but Elizabeth to me. Naturally I couldn't walk past Elizabeth Is Missing, it was calling to me.

Fast forward a couple a couple of  weeks and I found Liz, aka Elizabeth already had this book, 2 for £7 in Tesco. No matter how hard we try to support independent bookstores and our local libraries, Mr Tesco is very tempting. So, we decided to read the same book simultaneously. As Liz is my book crossing friend and is also taking part in this challenge, this was just waiting to happen.

Elizabeth Is Missing is primarily a book about dementia, Maud's struggle with dementia. She is desperately trying to hold onto any semblance of her a "normal" life, she writes constant notes but is gradually becoming more and more bewildered. She knows her memory is fading, part of her problem is deciding what she has just remembered and what she has forgotten she has previously remembered. Her one constant in life is that Elizabeth her great friend is missing. And when she forgets Elizabeth is missing and gets a reminder, it is like discovering all over again that Elizabeth is missing. But no one will listen to her. Is Elizabeth dead? Is Elizabeth murdered? Is Elizabeth in a nursing home? Or is Elizabeth just missing? Or is it really Maud's long missing sister Sukey that we should be concerned about? In the midst of this Maud forgets where she is, what she is doing. She confuses her long suffering daughter Helen with her granddaughter Katie. And most of all she is concerned about how deep marrows should be planted.

Gradually the confusions between her old life and her current life meld together and the mystery of sister Sukey unravel.

This is a very touching story that I imagine gives a great insight into living with and alongside dementia. Yet this is not a story to make you cry. Thankfully. Liz and I were texting our thoughts whilst reading this, and Liz used one word that summed up the book rather well "unsettling". It is not overly emotional but it is unsettling. Amazingly this is Emma Healey's first book. There seems to be all of a sudden a trend for very strong first novels, novels that deal with difficult heart wrenching subjects, like Rachel Joyce and "The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" that dealt with mental illness and perceived preconceptions about mental illness. "The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared" as another excellent first novel by Jonas Jonasson.

Liz mentions in her blogpost the finish of Wolf Hall on BBC tv and the desmise of Anne. I have yet to watch the final episode and am looking forward to it. No need to worry about a spoiler though. I did catch the interview on Newsnight with Mark Rylance who acted Thomas Cromwell. In fact I have rather a lot of Tudor tie in documentaries to catch up on as well.

The other book I read this week was on a much lighter vein, Kate Ellis' new Inspector Wesley Peterson novel, "The Death Season", number 19 in the series. This was as excellent as the previous 18. There is usually a modern day murder investigated by Wesley whilst at the same time his friend Neil, an archaeologist, is investigating an old murder. Love these books so much. And, this brings me up to date, 8 books in 8 weeks.

Next week's book is Alan Bennett's new collection of short stories. I have rather a crush on Alan Bennett, I can't wait to read these.

linking in with the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge
and The Wheel On The School blog


  1. This is such a good review Helen, you said what I really wanted to but couldn't put into words!

  2. One year I tried the 52 in 52--got about 45; next year I tried 45 and got about 40. So I stayed with 45 this year. All this on Goodreads. I just finished Still Alice, about early onset dementia, without the mystery of missing Elizabeth added. Your book sounds good.


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