Monday, June 23, 2014

The Book Tour Stops Here: "Elizabeth is Missing" by Emma Healey with Cinnamon-Peach Chia Seed Jam on Toast

"Elizabeth is missing"--it's the thought that keeps popping up in Maud's confused mind, a mystery she needs to solve but she can't seem to remember anything long enough to find out what happened to her friend. The little notes and reminders she leaves herself aren't helping and no one seems to want to listen to her. Elizabeth's disappearance also takes Maud back seventy years to when her older sister disappeared, never to be seen again. Is there a connection?  Elizabeth is Missing is an absorbing and suspenseful first novel by Emma Healey, and Kahakai Kitchen is a stop on its TLC Book Tour

Publisher's Blurb:
In this darkly riveting debut novel, a sophisticated psychological mystery, one woman will stop at nothing to find her best friend, who seems to have gone missing. . . .

Despite Maud’s growing anxiety about Elizabeth’s welfare, no one takes her concerns seriously—not her frustrated daughter, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son—because Maud suffers from dementia. But even as her memory disintegrates and she becomes increasingly dependent on the trail of handwritten notes she leaves for herself in her pockets and around her house, Maud cannot forget her best friend. Armed with only an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth—no matter what it takes.

As this singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present, the clues she uncovers lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: that of her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II. As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud’s search for Elizabeth develops a frantic momentum. Whom can she trust? Can she trust herself?

A page-turning novel of suspense, Elizabeth Is Missing also hauntingly reminds us that we are all at the mercy of our memory. Always compelling, often poignant, and at times even blackly witty, this is an absolutely unforgettable novel.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper (June 10, 2014)

Elizabeth is Missing is a book that pulls you in and builds the angst with every page. A book about a woman in her eighties trying to find out what happened to her best friend while her mind disintegrates and her anguish and anxiety build shouldn't be this captivating, but it is. The story, told from Maud's view, jumps back and forth between the past and present day and, as jumbled as her mind is, the book had me constantly guessing--what was past, what is present, what is real, and what isn't? Maud is a smart lady, easy to care about and feel sad for as her confusion grows. As dark and poignant as Maud's story is, author Healey masterfully slips in a touch of dark humor that had me if not laughing, at least grinning.

As good as it was, this book was a bit hard for me to read. At 82, my mom is Maud's age and her short-term memory has deteriorated in the past couple of years--although certainly not to Maud's level, nor has she been diagnosed with dementia or any conditions of the mind. Still, I find myself getting frustrated at times that she doesn't remember something we discussed at length the day before, or that we sometimes need to play guessing games to find a word she can't remember. As any child of an aging parent knows, it can be frustrating to have to dial back the impatience that naturally arises and both sad and hard to control your fears that this person who nurtured you all of those years won't always be around and able to continue loving you. Elizabeth is Missing brought that home for me. Still, I recommend it as a great read and an amazing first novel from a talented author--just know that it has some tough-to-read themes.       

Author Notes:  Emma Healey holds a degree in bookbinding and an MA in creative writing. Elizabeth Is Missing is her first novel. She lives in the UK. Find out more about Emma at her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

There is actually a food presence in the book--it's just with Maud's getting lost in her mind, some of that food repeats itself over and over primarily summer squash (Maud repeatedly asks people the best place to grow it) and the canned peaches she keeps buying much to her daughter's dismay. 

What does one do with all of those canned peaches? I decided to help them out and utilize the fruit in some peachy jam to go with the toast Maud likes to eat--although cooking is something she is not allowed to do for herself anymore. Wanting a quick, effort-free and healthy jam, I decided to make it with chia seeds. No cooking required--just some pulses in the food processor and time to set up. Works for me! Another thing that works for me is cinnamon to jazz up the canned peach vibe a bit. I think Maud would like it. 

Cinnamon Peach Chia Seed Jam
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups) 

1 (15.5 oz) can peaches natural or in lite syrup
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
maple syrup or honey to taste (I used about 1/2 Tbsp)
1 1/2 Tbsp of chia seeds

Pulse peaches, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla and sweetener in a food processor to the consistency you desire. For a chunky jam, pulse less time, pulse longer for a smooth jam. Place in a bowl or jar and stir in the chia seeds thoroughly.  

Let sit for 30 minutes, then chill in the fridge for an hour or two--so that the chia seeds have jelled and thicken the jam. Serve on toast, with a cup of tea.  

Notes/Results: A nice little jam with chunky texture and good peach and cinnamon flavor. Of course it would be amazing with fresh peaches but as a way to use up canned fruit, it works really well. The lemon juice and vanilla round out the flavors, as does the maple syrup. It's sweet but not too sweet which I like and is perfect on crisp toast for breakfast or a snack. It was even better when accompanied with some slightly spicy black chai tea. This is a fast and easy jam that tastes great and anything made with chia seeds has added nutrients and is just plain fun. I would make it again.

This post is being linked up at Novel Food--celebrating food inspired by the written word and  hosted by my friend Simona at Briciole. This deadline for this round of Novel Food ends today June 23rd.

Note: A review copy of "Elizabeth is Missing" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of the TLC Book Tours and Reviews here



  1. I love chia jam! Peaches taste so good right now, so I'm thinking this is a pretty perfect way to consume them!

  2. I'm sorry I missed that event at Simona's site. My book blog is called Novel Meals and when I discovered Simona's I was worried she'd think I ripped her off! haha

    Anyway, this is a book I would be interested in reading. Will make a note for my library runs.

    I understand what you are talking about with the frustration level and sadness with an older parent. My father-in-law is experiencing some of that and it's as you said, both heartbreaking and maddening.

  3. The book sounds good and so does the jam!

  4. This sounds like an interesting book. I am intrigued that the author has a degree in bookbinding, one of my passions. I can understand how it is emotionally difficult to read about something we experience. What a nice idea to use chia seeds to thicken the jam. I must try it. Thank you so much for contributing to Novel Food.

  5. Do not worry for a second, Tina. I think it is a great name. I'll host the next edition towards the end of summer and I hope you'll participate then.

  6. I can understand how reading this book could be challenging because it hits a bit close to home, but I'm glad you enjoyed it all the same.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  7. The story sounds interesting and engaging and I think that peach jam is perfect! Have a good week :) lucia

  8. This is the second recipe for jam I've seen in the last week that uses chia seeds to help it set! Now I'm really intrigued!

    Love how you tied your recipe into the book.


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