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Editor reviews

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2014, Elizabeth is Missing is the debut novel written by Emma Healey and is an unabridged mystery audiobook expertly narrated by Anna Bentinck. Audible listeners follow the story of forgetful Maud, who obsesses over finding her missing friend, Elizabeth. It’s a daunting task to search for clues and then forgetting them as soon as they are found. With her memory failing she must rely only on her intuition. It’s never led her off track in the past… Or has it? A lighthearted and absorbing listen.

Summary

Costa First Novel Award Winner 2014

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it.

She sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger. But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: Her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

©2014 Emma Healey (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd

What members say

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Elizabeth is missing

Where does Elizabeth Is Missing rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the top stories I have listened to. two.women missing 50 years apart a whodunit with a difference!

Who was your favorite character and why?

The main character is searching for Elizabeth whilst suffering the beginnings of Dementia
Her reliance upon slips of paper to work as an aide memoir, dated but what happens when you don't remember the date or if you have already acted upon what's on the paper

What does Anna Bentinck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Anna brings the characters and story to life with the feeling that you are a character within the story

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The main characters narration and her sudden confusion as to who this woman in front of her is.
The story itself takes the listener into how it must be for somebody suffering from dementia and how sometimes she will recognise her daughter and grand daughter then suddenly wonder who these people are.

Any additional comments?

Although the character is suffering from dementia, the actual story is about two missing Somerset gif th years apart. It is a who done it with many red herrings and twists that when the story ends you are left wanting to remain and hear more.
Wonderful thought provoking enjoyable adventure
Never judge a book by its cover ....is so true of this book

29 of 34 people found this review helpful

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Unsettling

If you could sum up Elizabeth Is Missing in three words, what would they be?

Addictive - thought-provoking - mystery

What was one of the most memorable moments of Elizabeth Is Missing?

That would give the story away!

What does Anna Bentinck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I think her voice was just right. She got Maud's vocal age very well.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both. Made me think a lot.

Any additional comments?

Look forward to another book!

27 of 33 people found this review helpful

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A distressingly human story so well told

Any additional comments?

How frail we are! The narration was wonderful, depicting Maud as an increasingly disturbed lady and a young innocent girl. I think I knew the outcome but wondered how it would resolve. I have to say I found the story and the telling deeply depressing but would have felt almost cowardly to "look away" as we so often do in society. Hopefully this will be made into a film to further increase our understanding of dementia in all its forms. Well done to Emma Healey for a brave story.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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gripped me from the beginning

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

without a doubt,
The story itself is intriguing and caught my attention immediately. However the narration is beyond fantastic and brings the novel to life for me, The way that Anna Bentinck distinguishes between Maud and Mops is subtle but oh so effective - bravo!!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Maud - although there were times when I had to step back and try to see things from Cara and Helen's point of view and realised what a difficult situation they are in.

Have you listened to any of Anna Bentinck’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No but will def seek them out

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

many tear jerkers - mostly throw away lines about Maud's relationship with HER mother or with Helen when she was a child - caught me quite unawares.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Annie
  • Kew Gardens
  • 30-01-15

Compelling narrative beautifully read.

If you could sum up Elizabeth Is Missing in three words, what would they be?

Gripping. Touching. Delicate

Who was your favorite character and why?

Undoubtedly Maude was my favourite character. I loved how the story switched from past to present. I became absorbed in her thought processes.

Have you listened to any of Anna Bentinck’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I heard Anna Bentinck before in The Bone Clocks and enjoyed her performance then. I was pleasantly surprised to come across her again. Fabulous reading. Full of sensitivity and character. I always knew who was talking and felt that she gave real and consistent authenticity to each personality.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Unforgettable

Any additional comments?

I think I have enjoyed this book the most out of all the ones I have listened to so far. In my opinion the only thing that lets it down is the epilogue which I felt added nothing to the plot.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Sensitive subject brought to life

What did you like most about Elizabeth Is Missing?

The sense of the main character's decline across the book, and the anxiety it brings out in the reader was incredibly deft and sensitively and accurately done.

What other book might you compare Elizabeth Is Missing to, and why?

Pretty wayward, but the world created most reminded of Franz Kafka's The Trial, with a single character roaming round and trying to make sense of the authorities. Except here, in this rather lighter-than-Kafka book, everyone is smiling and being kind to our central character, which is somehow just as claustrophobic.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

That where the central character was housed at her daughter's house, and her granddaughter started to take care of her.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I think in the early stages, when Healey is setting out early instances of the main character's condition, when she comes to put a cup of tea down for a moment, and finds a row of cold cups of tea already there. Such a mournful, simple, beautifully rendered moment.

Any additional comments?

I feel I should point out one or two weaknesses: the scenes with Elizabeth's overbearing son did not ring true, and I feel the narrator really struggled with these,

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Heartbreaking

Maud has dementia but whilst she struggles to remember what she needs to buy in the shops, where she lives or even fails to recognise her own daughter, she clings to her belief that something has happened to her best friend Elizabeth. The problem is she can't remember what she has found out and she keeps forgetting quite what she is trying to do. As she continues to try and find her missing friend, older memories haunt her and a much older mystery begins to rise to the surface.
This book had me hooked from the opening chapter. The whole story is told from Maud's point of view so we really share her confusion and empathise with her struggle to pull all the clues together. The narrator does a superb job, moving effortlessly between the elderly and younger Maud. I laughed out loud at times but was unbearably moved at others.
I can't recommend this book enough.

23 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Not as anticipated but...

I had thought this would be a thriller with a twist, but instead it's a sad insight into the decline into dementia. Incredibly well portrayed by the narrator and cleverly expressed by the author. There is a mystery at the centre of the book but it is a sideline to the struggle Maud has in her daily life. Not gripping, but definitely thought provoking.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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So different...

A delightful and intriguing read. The author has both humour and a wonderful insight whilst weaving a mysterious tale. And as usual fantastically narrated by Anna Bentinck.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Such a beautiful book

Where does Elizabeth Is Missing rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the absolute top.

What did you like best about this story?

The story line is both moving and gripping, the language flows easily and the desperation of the old woman looking for her missing friend is touching.

Have you listened to any of Anna Bentinck’s other performances? How does this one compare?

The reading is sublime - both the voices of the young and the old protagonist is perfectly narrated.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The story made me laugh out lough several times...and well up too.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Bjerkana
  • Bjerkana
  • 31-08-14

Insightful, sensitive, intriguing

As the daughter of a 91 year-old widow who still thinks her mind is sharp as a tack, I found this book particularly poignant. The author shows great insight into the mind of her heroine, its intertwining of past and present and the confusion of drifting between the two. The portrayal is sensitive and sympathetic, suggesting familiarity with the problems of encroaching dementia. The interwoven story of Maud's youth and the mystery which has left its mark on her emotions is wonderfully told and delightfully connected with her perceptions of the present day. Her distress at being unable to find her only friend, so important to older people who have lost just about everyone else in their lives, is very real. The conclusion to the mystery is a wonderful culmination to the book, which can have no happy endings. I enjoyed the way details of present objects led to recollections of the past and connected the two stories together.
The narration of this book was particularly outstanding. Anna Bentinck gave every character their own, recognisable voice and her portrayal of Maud, the central character, was sensitive and appropriate. I really enjoyed this book and would look for others by the author and narrator.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Sysop
  • 30-07-14

Fantastic Book! I loved every minute of it.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have recommended this book to several of my friends and family.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well, Maud of course, but also the granddaughter who was so kind to her when everyone else was treating her like a silly old woman. She didn't assume that Maud had lost her sense of humour just because she was old.

Which character – as performed by Anna Bentinck – was your favorite?

All of them! They were all well rounded characters and either lovable or loath-able (is that even a word?) The range of 'Maud voices' was very well done and gave great depth to the story.

Who was the most memorable character of Elizabeth Is Missing and why?

Maud, Helen and Peter - was that man annoying or what! Such a pompous windbag - I wanted to give him a good slap!

Any additional comments?

The only thing that I kept on thinking was, why didn't Maud make a note of Elizabeth's whereabouts once she knew of them? She wrote everything else she wanted to remember down, but not that most important thing ... but then, there wouldn't have been this wonderful story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Madeleine
  • 27-12-14

Relentless, Poignant and Incredibly Insightful

If you require a clear narrative in your detective fiction, you will not like this. The POV of a woman suffering from dementia makes it a very compelling and radically different type of storytelling. But I loved it. I fell in love with the character. My heart went out to her, and Anna Bentinck's narration was superb.

Beyond simply being a very innovative approach to narrative, it really gave me a perspective on people suffering from dementia. I'm never going to cluck my tongue at my mother again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 23-03-16

gut wrenching

one of the best books I have read. really puts you in the world of a demented old lady. I now have a greater understanding of where their world is and a fascinating whodunnit to boot

1 of 1 people found this review helpful