Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie

When Three Things About Elsie arrived courtesy of lovely Ann Bissell at Harper Collins in return for an honest review I was utterly delighted because I think Joanna Cannon is one of the most talented authors we have. I previously adored and reviewed Joanna’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep here.

Three Things About Elsie will be published on 11th January 2018 by Borough Press, an imprint of Harper Collins, and is available for pre-order here.

Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie

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 a man who died sixty years ago?

My Review of Three Things About Elsie

Florence has had a fall and whilst she waits for someone to find her in her sheltered accommodation, she thinks about her past.

I think I can sum up Three Things About Elsie in two words. Sheer perfection. Joanna Cannon has the unerring ability to look into our very souls and hold up a mirror to who we are and who we might become. There is such beauty and wisdom between the pages of Three Things About Elsie that its resonances will stay with me always.

The language perfectly matches the characters so that I felt as if I were eavesdropping on their conversations and thoughts. It was as if I were listening to someone speaking to me rather than as if I were reading a book and it felt as if Joanna Cannon had crawled into my head and described flawlessly my perceptions about people I know, articulating them far better than I could ever hope to do. I loved every word as the characters of Flo, Elsie, Jack et al were built and revealed. It felt so real and vivid to me I had to keep reading passages aloud to my husband to share the glorious beauty and truth of the writing, especially those elements steeped in humour.

The plot surprised me. I was expecting fabulous and emotional writing, but not quite the wonderful degree of mystery so that Three Things About Elsie can be enjoyed on many, many levels. The themes of love, identity and friendship wove a magical web of enchantment around my heart as a reader, but it was the exploration of who we are, who we become and how we value or demean the older members of our society that truly spoke to my soul. Flo’s experiences and her story could belong to any one of us. I was left with an understanding that we do not have to loom large in the world to leave our mark. Our very ordinariness can be the catalyst for more than we might ever imagine. I ended the book simultaneously in tears and completely uplifted.

Three Things About Elsie is funny and poignant in equal measure. It is beautifully and sympathetically written. It left me feeling we all have positivity and worth and we can make a difference. I thought it was utterly, utterly sublime.

About Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog.

You can find out more about Joanna Cannon via her website and you can follow her on Twitter. You’ll also find Joanna on Facebook.

30 thoughts on “Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

  1. Seems to be a trend for books about older people- Elizabeth is Missing, A Man Called Ove, etc etc. It’s very welcome and despite a pile of eager to be read books received for Christmas, I’m keen to encounter this one after your enticing review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Superb review, I agree Linda, Joanna is a wonderful writer and yes, I LOVE books weaving tales from the past into the present via a perspective from another generation. We all need to hear these voices. Now, darn it, you’ve added this to my list! (This housework will never get done! 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Utterly sublime indeed, this novel is one of the gems of the year, I could so visualise it all as it was happening, Cherry Tree managed to be quite an exciting and tension filled place to be, ironically! I loved it when they went off on their outings, Flo, Jack and Elsie on the case.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barry says:

    Hi Linda, I’ve just read it and really enjoyed it. Strangely though, from very early in the book, I thought it was about the afterlife. When I got to the end I was even more certain. Yet, you haven’t mentioned that, nor anyone else on your page. Am I going mad?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry for the late response Barry. No internet for over a week! What a brilliant interpretation. It would work wonderfully that way and it never even crossed my mind. You’ll have to contact Jo and ask her views! I’ll have to reread it with that in mind!


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