Octagenarian Maud suffers from dimentia. In her pocket are several scribbled notes about what she needs to buy from the shop and that her friend Elizabeth is missing. Interwoven into her daily confusion over forgetting to drink her cups of tea, buying endless cans of peaches (because she forgot she already bought them) and trying to work out where Elizabeth is and why nobody will belive she is missing, is an altogether much clearer story of Maud’s sister Sukey who went missing at the end of the war and has never been seen since.
It’s actually a very sad story as, written from Maud’s point of view, we watch her confusion and spiral deeper into dimentia first hand. Current life is less and less coherant for Maud but her memories of decade gone by are as clear as day. It reminded me of my own grandmother: although she didn’t suffer from dimentia, she did forget day to day things constantly but when she spoke about years gone by and her life as a little girl, she lit up like a christmas tree and the detail was as if it were happening right now.
While I did find this book really well written and believable, I also found it a very sad book; like I was prying into someone else’s life in a way that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. The puzzle of where Elizabeth was also felt like a secondary plot device to me too, as if the real story was Maud’s spiral into dimentia and the whereabouts of Elizabeth was not so much a mystery but a way of deviating slightly from the day to day confusion and mishaps of Maud.