Literature is replete with unreliable narrators, but you’ve never encountered an unreliable narrator like the one in Emma Healey’s mournful and luminous debut novel, Elizabeth Is Missing. Maud Horsham isn’t remotely evil. She’s not pathologically dishonest, nor does she have some deep, dark secret to hide. Her unreliability comes simply from the fact that she’s elderly and her memory is failing fast. On top of this, she’s absolutely sure that her friend Elizabeth is missing.
British author Emma Healey may be only 29 years old, but she has created a poignant portrait of a woman with dementia in her luminous debut novel, which contains a double mystery.
Was there a specific inspiration for the character of Maud?
Although my father’s mother, Nancy, has dementia and her experiences gave me ideas for some of the scenes in the book, it was my mother’s mother, Vera, who most influenced the character of Maud.