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Review: Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie

Title: Three Things About Elsie
Author: Joanna Cannon
Genre: Literary fiction, Suspense
Page Count: 304
Published by: Scribner Book Company
Date Published: August 7, 2018
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


84 year old Florence Claybourne has fallen in her apartment at Cherry Tree nursing home.

A new resident has recently arrived at Cherry Tree. He is friendly, handy, a wee-bit mysterious and is quickly befriended by the staff and other residents. But Florence is certain she knows this man from her past and he wasn’t the kind, easy-going man he appears. Unfortunately no-one believes her, thinking she is simply old and confused … except kind hearted Jack and her best friend Elsie. As Florence awaits her rescue on her apartment floor, she takes us on a journey of her long forgotten past, painful secrets and recent events as the mystery of this strange man is slowly exposed. This strange man that Florence just happened to see die decades earlier.


Let’s Talk Book Surprises:

I ordered this little book simply because I liked the cover, I wanted to read a story centring around an elderly lady, and I wanted to hit free shipping on my book outlet order. I assumed it would be a “someday” read.

As I was queuing up my next round of audiobooks, I thought I’d listen to a sample of Three Things About Elsie … it had me after the first sentence. Not a lie.

Three Things About Elsie has become one of my favourite books I’ve ever read and it was going to sit on my shelf for who-knows how long … don’t you just love this fascinating ability of books to jump up and surprise you? I love knowing that no matter how many amazing books I read, another gem is just out there, waiting for me to stumble upon it … it might even be sitting on my TBR shelf right now.

Basically, I encourage you to take a second look at your shelves …

Let’s Talk More Plot Surprises:

This book just cannot be labeled – because it starts out a bit of a tongue-in-cheek mystery, then becomes a bit of a foreboding thriller, and finally shifting into a melancholy self reflective look at the value and measure of one’s life. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that can shift its tone so continuously and seamlessly such as this. It is the strong voice of Florence that weaves the connection throughout.

Let’s Talk Unforgettable Characters & Ignored Voices:

Joanna Cannon has done the very rare, very challenging feat of creating a character that you genuinely believe to be a real person. As I listened (which I highly recommend listening to this on audiobook, it elevates the voice tenfold) to Florence, I simply kept falling in love with her. She was spunky, ornery, opinionated, and just flat out interesting.

For me, the standout of this novel is the conversation on society’s collective treatment and assumptions of the elderly. Our impatience. The idea because one is old, one is practically useless. That forgetfulness is unintelligence, that caution is difficult, that slowness is unworthy. Where has our patience gone? Joanna Cannon writes a cast of elderly characters that are truly unforgettable, highlighting our major failing in ignoring all they have to offer us.

Overall Thoughts:

Three Things About Elsie genuinely moved me; it touched my heart, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry and it made me think. Ultimately a story of everlasting friendship and the painful path of forgiving oneself, what will truly last for me is the conversation on our treatment and attitudes towards the elderly. Our impatience, our ignorance, and our arrogance is called upon in this gentle book, highlighting a voice we seldom hear from in fiction. I will never forget Florence and the enchanting cast of characters Joanna Cannon created. (Highly recommend the audiobook)

“Perhaps the most important moments of all turn out to be the ones we walk through without thinking, the ones we mark down as just another day …We benchmark our lives with birthdays and Christmases and holidays, but perhaps we should think more about the ordinary days. The days which pass by and we didn’t even notice.”

TBR Ranking: High

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