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?
From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.
‘Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.’
Three Things About Elsie is the highly anticipated second novel from Joanna Cannon. It tells the story of eighty-four-year-old Florence, resident of Cherry Tree sheltered accommodation, who has fallen in her flat and reflects on her life as she waits to be found and helped. A new resident has moved into Cherry Tree and he looks suspiciously like a man Florence knew in the past but who died sixty years ago.
Like its predecessor, The Trouble With Goats And Sheep, Three Things has at its core a mystery that needs solving in regards to the identity of new resident, Gabriel, but it is a multi-layered in the themes it explores. And Cannon explores them beautifully, resulting in me highlighting many sentences so that I could read them back and reflect on them later.
It is a testament to Cannon’s writing skills that she is able to go from writing via the perspective of a child to the other end of the spectrum, that of an octogenarian, and do so with authenticity. I fell in love with Florence, Elsie and especially Jack. Told largely via the perspective of Florence with interspersing chapters from the points of view of a couple of the staff members at Cherry Tree, you live every moment with Florence and her friends.
As I said, Three Things is a multi-layered book that goes beyond the mystery Florence and her friends are trying to get to the bottom of. Cannon has a real understanding about human beings and human nature and Three Things is a book about enduring friendship, long-held secrets and the impact of keeping them and dementia. Cannon eloquently and movingly depicts dementia from the perspective of the person suffering from it. Funny and yet heart breaking in equal measure, Three Things manages to convey all that is good and less good in life.
I have to confess that initially I didn’t think I enjoyed it as much as Goats and Sheep but the more I thought about it after I had finished it, the more it affected me and the more I appreciated it. Now I would say it is on an equal footing.
Funny, gentle, heartrending, poignant and so beautifully written, Three Things About Elsie is a book that will remain in my heart for a very long time. It heralds Joanna Cannon as one of the great new writers of our time and I urge everybody to read it.
Published on 11 January 2018 by Borough Press, you can grab a copy HERE.
I reviewed my own copy and this is my honest and unbiased review.