Photo: Chalmers Butterfield
Photo: Chalmers Butterfield

Elizabeth is Missing is the debut novel from writer Emma Healey, who completed her Creative Writing MA at UEA in 2011.

The plot follows Maud, an elderly woman who forgets things. She doesn’t remember when she’s eaten or what she went to the shops for but, worst of all, she sometimes forgets who her daughter is. Maud is lonely but gets by with the help of her friend Elizabeth. But Elizabeth is missing and no one seems to be that concerned. As Maud attempts to investigate the mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s disappearance, she also attempts to uncover the secrets buried in her mind about an incident that happened to her seventy years ago. But with Maud’s mind as fragile as it is, this is no easy task.

Healey writes the story with a fantastically flowing style. When reading this novel, there is never any doubt that you are reading anything but the exact words of an elderly woman. At the young age of 28, Healey has managed to capture Maud as a strong and determined elderly woman who society is leaving behind. Her memory loss ensures that doctors and police officers dismiss her and her claims, but by the end Maud is truly a hero. As she attempts to understand what has happened to Elizabeth, the reader is taken into the dark recesses of her mind where 15-year-old Maud struggles to come to terms with the disappearance of her sister. Piece by slow piece, she manages to uncover the secrets of her family and the mystery unravels itself.

Healey’s novel has been widely fought over with nine separate publishers vying for it at the London Book Fair. Penguin have acquired the book which will be published in June. The TV rights have already been sold and Healey looks set to follow in the footsteps of previous UEA alumni Ian McEwan (Atonement) and Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go).

Elizabeth is Missing is a gripping tale and is unbelievably difficult to put down; you’ll most definitely find yourself reaching for it in your sleep. It’s an incredibly enjoyable read and Healey is definitely an author to watch out for in the future.

Healey will be at Waterstones in Norwich for a free book signing on Tuesday 3rd June at 7.30pm. It promises to be a really exciting event with a Q and A session, plus a reading from the novel!