What if you could remember just one thing? Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognizable – just like 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, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it. Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about. Everyone, except Maud..
I am always on the look out for interesting new authors and quirky crime reads. This is one that was highly recommended by a few people on twitter.
It is the story of a woman in her eighties, Maud, Maud lives independently with the help of her daughter, Helen and her carer. Maud uses memory aids to help her keep a track of things. She writes down on pieces of paper important things. She notices her friend, Elizabeth is no longer around. Maud starts investigating, which is not easy when your sense of time and place is distorted and your memory is faulty. At the same time, there is the mystery of what happened to Maud’s sister who disappeared after the Second World War. Maud’s past recollections hold the key to what happened to Sukey.
This is a book about a woman with dementia. We follow her thoughts and actions. We see how strained relationships can be, when language is no longer shared. Maud retreats into the past, and frequently her utterances make little sense in the present. It is profoundly sad at times, as we see Maud no longer being listened to. When people around her get irritated, it is moving. We can see both sides. We grow to understand that Maud probably only makes sense of a fraction of things she is told.
I guessed what had happened to Elizabeth fairly early on. I was more intrigued with the 1946 Sukey story-line and how that was going to resolve. I grew very fond of seeing the world through the eyes of Maud and pondering how terrible it must be to lose a part of yourself. Our memories are the key to our identity and making sense of the world. I felt for Maud, as she wanted to buy her canned peaches and cook an egg and suddenly these normal everyday things she enjoyed were forbidden.
This is an unusual read, because the character of Maud kept my interest throughout as opposed to the story. As a mystery, it does work. I can imagine if someone close to you is going through these symptoms, it could be a tough read.