Saturday, 24 January 2015

Elizabeth is Missing: First ever book review on The Small Desk

I don't even have a category on this blog for book reviews, and by making one I feel I am tempting fate, putting the pressure on myself to do another book review, even to read another book, so for now I'm going to put these into the 'articles' category and see how it goes. But yes, a book review! One of my New Year's Resolutions actually happening, this is the SECOND book I've read this year and we haven't even finished January, I never thought I'd say that, quite proud of myself! In part this resolution has been helped by the fact that I've been lucky enough to read two fantastic books. The first was Bill Bryson's Down Under and the second was Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

When I finished this book I sat holding the book, looking at the cover and tried to accept that it had finished. I could have read the book for longer, I wanted to know what else happened, I was greedy for more, yet if the book had been any longer it would have become darker and depressing, plus I would not have got anything done. I took every opportunity I got to read it. I am normally the person who looks at those people standing squashed on a train trying to read a book like they are crazy people, but that was me! This book is one of those rare page-turners, one that you read very quickly because you love the characters and want to know what happened to Elizabeth and Sukey.

Let me explain. The book is written in first person through the eyes of Maud, who has Alzheimer's. You see her journey with the disease progress throughout the book as it switches between the present and her recollection of the past. This is done very clearly with paragraph breaks, it is not confusing, and if you are confused, it is probably because Maud is confused. In the present she is looking for Elizabeth, her neighbour, and in the past she is looking for Sukey, her sister. The two stories start to entwine towards the end, bringing the present and the past together in an explosive ending.

Having seen Alzheimer's disease take hold of a relative's partner's father and seen the small day-to-day functions they now struggle with I could predict some of the events that were going to happen to Maud. Healey seems to have such a strong grasp of what Alzheimer's does to people and this is first-hand experience; her thank you in the front of the book goes to her grandmothers for inspiring the book. It makes you realise what an emotionally draining disease it is for the relatives of the person, how confused the person with the disease becomes, but gives you hope in the fact that Maud does still find joy in the small things in life and manages to do some pretty remarkable things, including solving a mystery decades old.

I don't want to spoil it for you if you are going to read it, so I won't say any more, other than that I would love to hear your thoughts on the book if you have read it and whether or not you want to read it! I'm starting my next book today, The Miniaturist, so you might see another book review very soon.

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