Title: Three Things About Elsie
Author: Joanna Cannon
Publisher: The Borough Press
There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.
84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?
I took a break from the many crime and thriller novels I tend to read with this novel, recommended to me by various people. I really enjoyed A Tidy Ending, Joanna Cannon’s most recent novel [read my review here], and have yet to read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep which I’ve heard amazing things about, so I was excited to give Three Things About Elsie a go. It’s a novel I don’t actually know much about, and I think that’s the best way to approach it.
The novel focuses on Florence, 84 years old and living in sheltered accommodation. She needs help remembering things, which her best friend Elsie (who she has been friends with since they were children) helps with. One day, a new resident at the same nursing home as her arrives, but Florence is shocked because she is absolutely convinced that he is someone who died many many years ago…
The first 3/4 of the book isn’t hugely fast-moving, but we learn lots about Florence and her friends Jack and Elsie. We get glimpses into Florence and Elsie’s childhood and we increasingly realise that Florence’s memory can’t be trusted.
Then the final quarter of the book really ramps up. Threads are connected which I loved, and the last few pages have stuck with me emotionally for a surprising amount of time. It definitely left me thinking about it long after I’d finished it, with emotional and touching parts, and the writing is wonderful. I really connected with the characters and would have happily read much more about them. Definitely recommended.