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 bit more explaining. Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light. If the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?Three Things About Elsie is the story about forever friends on the twisting path of life. As we uncover their buried secrets, we learn how the fine threads of humanity that connect us all.

Three Things About Elsie Details

TitleThree Things About Elsie
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 7th, 2018
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781501187384
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Literary Fiction

Three Things About Elsie Review

  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    Anyone who knows me will know how much I loved Joanna’s debut, I loved this even more. It’s about getting old, it’s about being young, it’s about the ripples our lives leave, the stories we tell ourselves and each other. It’s also about finding those long seconds that make a difference and all through the eyes of Florence and those around her living in sheltered accommodation. Broke my heart a bit and I loved it all the more for doing so.
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded up.Sad, funny at times and what feels like a realistic portrait of aging and memory loss and loneliness, this story is also about the beauty of friendship. There’s a mystery to be solved, just as in her debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, except this time the amateur sleuths are octogenarians and not young girls. Eighty four year old Florence has fallen in her flat at the Cherry Tree Home, an assisted living facility for the elderly. While waiting for help to come, s 3.5 stars rounded up.Sad, funny at times and what feels like a realistic portrait of aging and memory loss and loneliness, this story is also about the beauty of friendship. There’s a mystery to be solved, just as in her debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, except this time the amateur sleuths are octogenarians and not young girls. Eighty four year old Florence has fallen in her flat at the Cherry Tree Home, an assisted living facility for the elderly. While waiting for help to come, she tells us about some of the mysterious things that have been going on at the home and the appearance of a man from her past, a past she is not always clear on but her long time friend Elsie is always with her to help. Aided by Elsie and her friend Jack, one of my favorite characters, Florence sets out to solve the mystery. Not everything seemed to be as Florence remembered with secrets too painful to remember. It wasn’t difficult to guess a few things, especially the third thing about Elsie that Florence doesn’t tell us, but I was a little surprised at the end. Piecing together the things that happened in her past felt like it took too long. The things that came through the most for me were Florence’s feeling of isolation when she thought no one was listening and her desire to maintain her dignity. These are things any of us who have elderly loved ones need to keep in mind. While I liked The Trouble With Goats and Sheep more, this is worth reading.I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through NetGalley and Edelweiss.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars"Where've you been? ""I've looked for you forever and a day.""Where've you been?""I'm just not myself when you're away.""No, I'm just not myself when you're away." -- ”Where’ve You Been,”Kathy Mattea, Songwriters: Don Henry / Jon VeznerIn Cannon’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep two young girls seek to solve a mystery of sorts, and in Three Things About Elsie there is also a mystery that two women seek to solve, but they are no longer young girls, but elderly women living 4.5 Stars"Where've you been? ""I've looked for you forever and a day.""Where've you been?""I'm just not myself when you're away.""No, I'm just not myself when you're away." -- ”Where’ve You Been,”Kathy Mattea, Songwriters: Don Henry / Jon VeznerIn Cannon’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep two young girls seek to solve a mystery of sorts, and in Three Things About Elsie there is also a mystery that two women seek to solve, but they are no longer young girls, but elderly women living in an assisted care facility and the mystery they wish to solve has them wandering back and forth through time.”There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first 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 bit more explaining.”Florence and Elsie, Elsie and Florence. Best friends since they were young girls. Their whole lives. Florence sees a room being emptied, another person not to return to there or anywhere, their things to be scattered, disposed of, photographs tossed in alongside the books that may or may not have been read, or finished. It all disappeared so easily, and the room was so quickly returned to the state it had been in before. She wonders how much her life has mattered, if she has given anything that has made a difference to anyone. Explaining, or even examining the past is not Florence’s strong point, her memory is a bit spotty, but then she always has Elsie to encourage her memories up to the surface, and then they can comb through them together, knowing buried treasures will be found. She sees a face that she is sure she knows from the past, she is sure he is Ronnie Butler, a man who drowned in 1953, a man known to be violent, only this man appearing before her has a different name – Gabriel Price. Is he who he says he is, or is he the man she, and Elsie, knew? Soon, he is living at the assisted care facility and starts ingratiating himself to the workers, especially the one who has it in for Florence, who is keeping track of every reason to have Florence leave Cherry Tree and be sent to Greenbank. Little by little Florence begins to notice little things that are amiss, missing, or moved, and every time she complains to the people in charge, she’s made aware that she’s that much closer to being moved to the facility for those who need additional care. Secrets. Loss. Memories. Long seconds. Nostalgia. Small Acts of Kindness. The connection we have to those things attached to memories, the memories of those we loved, or moments we cling to. Old age and life-long friendship. These are all at the heart of this story. As the blurb for this says: ”As we uncover their buried secrets, we learn how the fine threads of humanity connect us all.”This was longlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize for fiction. It is also among those books being touted as the newly branded “Up Lit,” books with an optimistic story, typically focused on kindness, on human connection “love” stories, rather than “romantic” love, but also more than just a “feel good” story. For readers who enjoyed Joanna Cannon’s ’The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’, Gail Honeyman’s ’Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’, and/or Rachel Joyce’s ’The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’Pub Date: 07 AUG 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars This was BBC Radio 2 Book club read for January and I have enjoyed many of of the reads on this list. Three things about Elsie is sentimental, witty and a charming read about ageing, memory loss and friendship.The novel opens with the main character, 84 year old Florence lying on the floor of her flat in a sheltered accommodation village, While she awaits for help she starts to reminisce about things that have happened in her life and how she struggles with making sense of her past as 3.5 Stars This was BBC Radio 2 Book club read for January and I have enjoyed many of of the reads on this list. Three things about Elsie is sentimental, witty and a charming read about ageing, memory loss and friendship.The novel opens with the main character, 84 year old Florence lying on the floor of her flat in a sheltered accommodation village, While she awaits for help she starts to reminisce about things that have happened in her life and how she struggles with making sense of her past as her memory is now constantly letting her down and she struggles with secrets that have come back to haunt her.A story about aging and memory loss can be sometimes difficult to read but Three things about Elsie is quite witty and a gentle read and its hard not to care about Florence and her friendship with Elsie. There is a mystery at the heart of this novel which was entertaining but was quite predictable. The story does however give food for thought as we are all in the ageing process and sometimes its not easy to think about what the future holds but Three Things about Elsie is quite an endearing read and not at all depressing.I think readers who enjoyed Elizabeth Is Missing or A Man Called Ovemay well enjoy this novel.
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    Florence is an 84-year-old woman living in the Cherry Tree home for the elderly. She has fallen and is lying on the floor waiting to be rescued. She is thinking about what will happen when the emergency personnel arrive. She is also thinking about a secret from her past and what will happen when that secret has become known. Florence has a lot on her mind, she has recently been put on probation at the home by the director, Miss Ambrose. Florence is having difficulty fitting in with the other res Florence is an 84-year-old woman living in the Cherry Tree home for the elderly. She has fallen and is lying on the floor waiting to be rescued. She is thinking about what will happen when the emergency personnel arrive. She is also thinking about a secret from her past and what will happen when that secret has become known. Florence has a lot on her mind, she has recently been put on probation at the home by the director, Miss Ambrose. Florence is having difficulty fitting in with the other residents the home's social program. Plus, Florence seems to be deteriorating mentally. Florence also is concerned about the new resident at the home. He looks like a man she knew in the past - a man who has been dead for sixty years. Who is this man? Why does the figurine appear to be moved? Why does the staff continue to say they may need to move Florence to another facility when she tells them about the missing items, the moved items, and things she finds to be amiss at the home?Don't let the title fool you, the book is really about Florence. Yes, Elsie does play a BIG part of this book, but the story is about Florence. So now you are probably wondering if the book is about Florence then what are the three things about Elsie? Why is she mentioned in the title? Again, she plays a big part in the book but especially in Florence's life. Best friends since they met on a bus when they were children, they have been best friends and shared many life events together. Right away I figured out one key part of the plot. I didn't know I was right until the end but after the first chapter, I thought......hmmmmm, I wonder if.......I enjoyed this book, but I can't say that I loved it. I really enjoyed Florence and her snappy comebacks and interactions with people. There is some mystery in this book concerning Gabriel Price and if he really is who he claims to be. Florence and her friends embarked on a mission to discover the truth and through their detective work, other truths came out as well.This book is well-written with enjoyable characters, but it failed to really WOW me. This is a book about the characters, their friendships, their secrets, living with a secret, but it is also about aging and living in a home for the elderly. Florence is having difficulty remembering things and I thought the Author did a good job showing Florence and her struggles. Elsie is there, and she helps Florence to remember and gently prods those pesky memories that Florence can't quite grasp initially and bring them to the surface.I wish some revelations would have been revealed to the reader sooner - such as the one I guessed. For me, this would have enhanced the story. But when the revelation does come at the end, I believe most readers will have that aha moment and realize that clues were there. Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.Read more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
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  • Helene Jeppesen
    January 1, 1970
    What a precious and heart-warming story! “Three Things about Elsie” starts out with Florence lying alone on the floor in her home for elderly people. No one seems to ever find her, so she has a lot of time to reflect back on her life and she takes us readers along with her on those reminiscenses. This novel is a combination of a mystery and a humorous account of what it’s like to live your last years of life. The mystery part starts when a man moves into the home who scares Florence, and Florenc What a precious and heart-warming story! “Three Things about Elsie” starts out with Florence lying alone on the floor in her home for elderly people. No one seems to ever find her, so she has a lot of time to reflect back on her life and she takes us readers along with her on those reminiscenses. This novel is a combination of a mystery and a humorous account of what it’s like to live your last years of life. The mystery part starts when a man moves into the home who scares Florence, and Florence seeks comfort and guidance with her best friend Elsie. The story is sharp in its humorous account of what it must be like to grow old and forget things. I found myself smiling at Florence’s accurate wonders and observations about the world around her, but I also found myself intrigued about the mystery, and the ending was quite satisfying. Like with “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep” from last year, Joanna Cannon is an expert at combining intriguing mystery with heart-warming accounts of people, and both books have found their way to a special place in my heart.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    4 friendship stars to Three Things About Elsie! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Before I start the review, you should know that I have an affinity for the number three. Sometimes I notice I have three of the same item in my grocery cart, or when I buy something I really, really like, I want to have three of it- a back-up, and one more back-up for good measure. I never take this too far, but the number three is fun for me. A bonus! 😂 So when I saw the title Three Things About Elsie, I knew there would be something extra 4 friendship stars to Three Things About Elsie! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Before I start the review, you should know that I have an affinity for the number three. Sometimes I notice I have three of the same item in my grocery cart, or when I buy something I really, really like, I want to have three of it- a back-up, and one more back-up for good measure. I never take this too far, but the number three is fun for me. A bonus! 😂 So when I saw the title Three Things About Elsie, I knew there would be something extra special about this book.84-year-old Florence is our narrator, and at the beginning of the novel, she has just fallen in her assisted living apartment. Poor Florence is on the floor waiting for someone to find her, and in that time, she worries about about a terrible secret that may be exposed. She tells the reader the following about Elsie, her best friend:“There are three things you should know about Elsie.The first 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.”There is an underlying mystery to be solved, and these elderly women, along with their friend Jack, set out to solve it. Florence and Elsie are thick as thieves, lifelong friends, true to each other, and a testament to friendship.As the mystery is examined, Florence notices things are missing, out of place, out of the ordinary, and if she brings this up to the people who care for her, the threat of moving her to a new place with more supervision is looming (because clearly the problem “must” be memory loss due to her age). Florence’s memories of the past are hazy and not always exact, which can be frustrating for her, and understandably so.Overall, I found Three Things About Elsie to be an uplifting story about the love between friends, aging and challenges with memory, loneliness and the needs for independence, importance, and utility at any age.My mom usually reads my reviews, and I say this with the gentlest heart. The biggest takeaway from this book for me personally reinforces something I strive for (and not always successfully): to always let my aging parents know they are vitally important in my life. They have many useful and helpful ideas to offer, and they continue to be wise to the ways of the world.Thank you to Taylor at Books With Taylor on Instagram for my ARC win. All opinions are my own.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this book after skimming through large parts of it because I had figured out the one important thing about Elsie very early on. Elsie is Florence’s best friend for the past thirty years and helps her to remember things along the way. Florence is 84 years old, lives in an assisted living home, has fallen and is waiting to be found and for an ambulance and is thinking about recent developments in her lifeThere is a mystery involved also which lends to some funny moments. This book deals I finished this book after skimming through large parts of it because I had figured out the one important thing about Elsie very early on. Elsie is Florence’s best friend for the past thirty years and helps her to remember things along the way. Florence is 84 years old, lives in an assisted living home, has fallen and is waiting to be found and for an ambulance and is thinking about recent developments in her lifeThere is a mystery involved also which lends to some funny moments. This book deals with aging, memory loss, and friendship among other things.I must say I enjoyed this authors “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep” much more.Thank you to Netgalley and Scribner for the ARC!
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Nopity nope nope nope. Apart from its patronizing tone and blaring sentimentality, this book’s major drawback is that it impedes its own goals. Video review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-U7R...
  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    After reading and enjoying the debut novel,The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by author Joanna Cannon I jumped at the chance of reading this novel. This book just got better and better and on finishing left me reflecting on what I had just read. Without giving anything away I was blown away by the ending.This book is not typical of my normal genre, I normally favour thrillers that are sometimes gruesome, but this book is sentimental, funny and a lovely read. The main character is 84 year old Flore After reading and enjoying the debut novel,The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by author Joanna Cannon I jumped at the chance of reading this novel. This book just got better and better and on finishing left me reflecting on what I had just read. Without giving anything away I was blown away by the ending.This book is not typical of my normal genre, I normally favour thrillers that are sometimes gruesome, but this book is sentimental, funny and a lovely read. The main character is 84 year old Florence who lives in sheltered accommodation and spends her days in conversation with her friends Elsie and Jack. When a new resident arrives named Gabriel Price, Florence is very upset and believes him to be a man from her past: Ronnie Butler who supposedly drowned. Florence, Elsie and Jack are determined to uncover the truth behind his real identity.This really is a beautiful book and so well written and I would thoroughly recommend it..
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  • Chrissie
    January 1, 1970
    So did I like this? Well, sort of. I am wavering between two and three stars.There are some really good lines--some humorous, some perceptive and philosophically wise. It was the lines that drew me to the book from the start and what I most like having now finished it. For me though, some lines that first struck me as clever, pithy and wise lost their brilliance by the book's end because they had been repeated just too many times. You can overdo anything if you say it too often. The telling beco So did I like this? Well, sort of. I am wavering between two and three stars.There are some really good lines--some humorous, some perceptive and philosophically wise. It was the lines that drew me to the book from the start and what I most like having now finished it. For me though, some lines that first struck me as clever, pithy and wise lost their brilliance by the book's end because they had been repeated just too many times. You can overdo anything if you say it too often. The telling becomes overly sentimental, schmaltzy and cute. There are funny lines, and that I will stick with. Humor related to aging, human behavior, memory and our contemporary lifestyle. The book is a cozy mystery, and as such I found it predictable and boring, not worth the effort of keeping all the strands straight.So what is the book about? Eighty-four-year-old Flo has tripped and fallen. She is lying on the floor of her flat waiting to call out for help. As she lies there she rethinks her life, the preceding years, months and weeks before. She is residing in an assisted housing complex for the elderly. She thinks of her best friend Elsie. She is in a frazzle about a new resident and wondering all the time about her own sanity. The reader is prompted to think about life in such assisted-living complexes, about aging, about dementia and of course about life in general. One can ask who is in fact is being sheltered from whom? The characters do not have the depth I would have wished for. Jack is the only character I came to care for. His (view spoiler)[death (hide spoiler)] brought a tear to my eye.The audiobook is very well narrated by Paula Wilcox. She remarkably well captures each character’s personality through varied intonations. Some waver. Others are strong and self-assured.There are good lines in the book, and for this it is worth reading.
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  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    I'm somewhat torn as to my rating. This was so frustratingly cliched but it also had a purity of emotion... Those last few pages really got me. But before that I was irritated by the obviousness of the plot devices that were used to tell Florence's story. If this book hadn't been so keen on attempting to shroud aspects of the characters in mystery and had purposefully let the reader in on the reveal from the start then I think this might have worked better for me. But those last few pages were b I'm somewhat torn as to my rating. This was so frustratingly cliched but it also had a purity of emotion... Those last few pages really got me. But before that I was irritated by the obviousness of the plot devices that were used to tell Florence's story. If this book hadn't been so keen on attempting to shroud aspects of the characters in mystery and had purposefully let the reader in on the reveal from the start then I think this might have worked better for me. But those last few pages were beautiful. Somewhere between one and two stars. “I think the hardest part of losing anyone is that you still have to live with the same scenery. It’s just that the person you are used to isn’t a part of it any more, and all you notice are the gaps where they used to be. It feels as though, if you concentrated hard enough, you could find them again in those empty spaces. Waiting for you.”
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I love this story. As it's not a conventional read it is difficult to categorise but if you think nostalgic cosy drama with a bit of a mystery and some dark comedy that should cover it!I don't want to spoil anything so I'll say no more except that I highly recommend this one.I read 'The trouble with goats and sheep' by this author last year and loved it too - this one has a similar feel although it's a completely different story but if you liked that one you're highly likely to enjoy this one to I love this story. As it's not a conventional read it is difficult to categorise but if you think nostalgic cosy drama with a bit of a mystery and some dark comedy that should cover it!I don't want to spoil anything so I'll say no more except that I highly recommend this one.I read 'The trouble with goats and sheep' by this author last year and loved it too - this one has a similar feel although it's a completely different story but if you liked that one you're highly likely to enjoy this one too.
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  • Dannii Elle
    January 1, 1970
    This is my eighth book read in the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist.My heart is forever broken!
  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    Longlisted for the 2018 Women's Prize for fiction.Joanna Cannon’s second book after her best-selling debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, which I seem to have been almost alone in strongly disliking, according it one of my rare 1* ratings, a review which concluded with a list of what I saw as “The Trouble with The Trouble with Goats”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...This is her follow up novel – a novel which, given my experience with her first novel, I would not have read other t Longlisted for the 2018 Women's Prize for fiction.Joanna Cannon’s second book after her best-selling debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, which I seem to have been almost alone in strongly disliking, according it one of my rare 1* ratings, a review which concluded with a list of what I saw as “The Trouble with The Trouble with Goats”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...This is her follow up novel – a novel which, given my experience with her first novel, I would not have read other than for its longlisting for the Women’s Prize.Three Things About Three Things About Elsie- The first things is that alongside Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine its one of the two example of the relatively recent literary genre called “up lit” on this year’s Women’s Prize shortlist. - The second thing is that it is a classic example of the genre- The third thing …. might take a bit more explaining“Up lit” books – typically concentrate on those marginalised by society due to age or eccentricity, and have plots driven by kindness and empathy.Joanna Cannon’s best seller debut was seen as playing a key role in the popularisation of this genre; another pioneering example would be Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...I hugely welcome books which preach compassion and understanding - too many literary books seem to revel in its opposite – celebrating the darker side of the human character (the unpleasant 2015 Booker prize winner “Seven Killings” being just one example of this). I do tend to find though that this newly developing genre relies a little too much on co-incidence, and on late revelations which are largely down to unreliable narrators (often unreliable for the very part of their character which the book is sympathetically portraying). I prefer books like Exit West, Lincoln in the Bardo, Attrib. and other stories or Turning for Home which have much of the advantage of “Up lit” without its disadvantages.“Three Things About Elsie” however is a classic example of the “up lit” genre in all senses. The book’s insider cover blurb says that the book will teach many things, of which three examples are given, the second being “the fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever”: the novel, particularly close to its ends, weaves so many coincidental interconnections between the characters (with almost every element of their past that has been previously mentioned turning out to overlap) that these fine threads turn into an almost impenetrable web.The book also relies almost entirely on an unreliable narrator – in fact Florence’s attempts to piece together for herself her memories of the death of her best-friend Elsie’s sister and the role played in it by Ronnie Butler (now seemingly back from the dead and masquerading as Gabriel Price) and, with much more emotional impact, by Elsie and by Florence herself, is fundamental to the book. I was surprised though to see the book ultimately relying on effectively the same plot device/key final revelation as Gail Honeyman’s “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”. I was also slightly mystified to note that, three pages after the pivotal action in the book which is the disappearance of a character called Mrs Honeyman, we are told that the name of owner of the Whitby hotel where the characters are all staying is Gail. But to finish on a positive note there is much to admire in the writing of this book. Cannon’s use of language and ability to convey the nuances of ageing is excellent – I felt I could have highlighted any number of passages in the book. Just as a few examples:This passage which questions the real societal motivations behind managed care for the elderly It’s called sheltered accommodation, but I’d never quite been able to work out what it was we were being sheltered from. The world was still out there. It crept in through newspapers and the television. It slide between the cracks of other people’s conversation and sang out from their mobile telephones. We were the ones hidden away, collected up and ushered out of sight, and I often wondered if it was actually the world being sheltered from us Or this which shows how simply growing old (like being a child) suddenly gives others the right to interfere in your life – as Florence looks back on when she was first moved, despite her wishes, into sheltered accomodation: It didn’t take them long to undo my life, I had spent eight year building it, but within weeks, they made it small enough to fit into a manila envelope and take long to meetings …. They hurried it away from me when I least expected, when I thought I could coat myself in old age and be left to it Or this series of lovely sentences exploring a group of old friends, reminiscing on their past: We explored pockets of the past. Favorite stories were retold, to make sure they hadn’t been forgotten. Scenes were sandpapered down to make them easier to hold … There were people missing from our conversations, and others were coloured in and underlined
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    If there is one theme that is a prominent crossover from Joanna Cannon's debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is something missing. But while we were dealing with a missing women in book one, here we are presented with a woman losing herself as memory fades. Set in an old people’s home, Three Things About Elsie explores the uncertain middle ground between life and death in an enclosed setting.Opening the story to find our main protagonist Florence Claybourne in a fair degree of bother af If there is one theme that is a prominent crossover from Joanna Cannon's debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is something missing. But while we were dealing with a missing women in book one, here we are presented with a woman losing herself as memory fades. Set in an old people’s home, Three Things About Elsie explores the uncertain middle ground between life and death in an enclosed setting.Opening the story to find our main protagonist Florence Claybourne in a fair degree of bother after having had a fall, how she got to that moment is a quite a tale. Florence lives out here days in the relative comfort at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly with her dearest friend Elsie who she has known most of her life. Elsie offers far greater comfort and support than anyone could possibly imagine. Florence though will need all that and more after firstly she is put on probation with failure meaning being shipped off to the funny farm known as Greenbank, and secondly the arrival of "the new guy".Calling himself Gabriel Price, Florence is convinced he is, in fact, the despicable Ronnie Butler. But how can this be since Ronnie supposedly died in 1953? Knowing she has a month to prove she isn't losing it, Florence and her friend Jack will look into the man calling himself Gabriel and find out more than they bargained for as repressed memories come to the surface as we discover the beautiful and tragic truth of Florence and Elsie. Florence right from the opening page is a delightful character. Witty, insightful, sweet and times sharp, she is a woman who will dominate your thoughts. Elsie on the other-hand is Florence's blanket that not only is a perfect fit but keeps her protected and happy. At times emotional, other times riotously funny, the mystery of Elsie as the air Florence breaths is one that will stay in the memory.
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  • Jules
    January 1, 1970
    This author’s first book, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, caught my attention with its intriguing title. This time, Three Things About Elsie lured me in with its tasty Battenberg cake cover. It makes me think of my childhood, of saving the marzipan until last, of not having a gluten intolerance. I knew I just had to read this book too, and not just because I wanted to eat the cover.For me, Three Things About Elsie felt like a combination of Joanna Cannon’s first book, with the mystery and styl This author’s first book, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, caught my attention with its intriguing title. This time, Three Things About Elsie lured me in with its tasty Battenberg cake cover. It makes me think of my childhood, of saving the marzipan until last, of not having a gluten intolerance. I knew I just had to read this book too, and not just because I wanted to eat the cover.For me, Three Things About Elsie felt like a combination of Joanna Cannon’s first book, with the mystery and style it was written in, and Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, which I absolutely adored.I enjoyed the overall story and mystery, and the great mix of interesting characters. But what I loved most about this story was the strong and everlasting friendship between Florence and Elsie. Although emotional in places, I found this story to be mostly funny and endearing.This is definitely a book I recommend if you enjoy character led stories that will touch your heart.My review is also available on my blog here:https://littlemissnosleep.wordpress.c...
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  • Sherri Thacker
    January 1, 1970
    I didn’t love this book but I did enjoy the book overall. Parts of the book dragged but at the end, it all came together, as I was hoping it would. Dementia is such a sad, terrible disease and I know what it’s like, with my mother in an assistant living place living with it. This book made me think of her and all the residents I talk to when I go there to visit her. They love to talk about the old days and who knows if what they are saying is true or not but they certainly believe it as they are I didn’t love this book but I did enjoy the book overall. Parts of the book dragged but at the end, it all came together, as I was hoping it would. Dementia is such a sad, terrible disease and I know what it’s like, with my mother in an assistant living place living with it. This book made me think of her and all the residents I talk to when I go there to visit her. They love to talk about the old days and who knows if what they are saying is true or not but they certainly believe it as they are telling their stories. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this book for my honest review.
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  • Claire McAlpine
    January 1, 1970
    Elsie is Florence's (Flo) best friend. The book is all about Flo and begins with her lying on the floor having had a fall, she's waiting for someone to arrive, she lives in a self contained apartment within a restirement home. She imagines who might come first, what they might say, the ambulance ride to the hospital. Every few chapters are interspersed with a chapter that is labelled with the time, the first chapter is 4.48pm and the last chapter is 11.12pm. The chapters in between narrate the s Elsie is Florence's (Flo) best friend. The book is all about Flo and begins with her lying on the floor having had a fall, she's waiting for someone to arrive, she lives in a self contained apartment within a restirement home. She imagines who might come first, what they might say, the ambulance ride to the hospital. Every few chapters are interspersed with a chapter that is labelled with the time, the first chapter is 4.48pm and the last chapter is 11.12pm. The chapters in between narrate the story of both the present and the past, about her time at Cherry Tree with Jack and Elsie, about staff members Miss Ambrose and Handy Simon, a few outings they take together, both the trio of Jack, Elsie and Flo and a group outing for a couple of days to Whitby.I looked across the lounge, and into the past. It was more useful than the present. There were times when the present felt so unimportant, so unnecessary. Just somewhere I had to dip into from time to time, out of politeness.Flo has plenty of complaints about what she is expected to participate in at Cherry Tree, but she's also worried about being sent to Greenbank, she feels as though she's under probation. Her observations about the names of these places and the names of many things, is insightful and adds a lightness to the narrative.Another problem with Cherry Tree is there are no cherry trees. I've had this out with Miss Bissell on more than one occasion, but she won't be told. 'One of them must be,' is all she can come up with, but none of them is.It's the kind of name you give to these places though. Woodlands, Oak Court, Pine Lodge. They're often named after trees for some reason. It's the same with mental health units. Forests full of forgotten people, waiting to be found again...It's like the day room. It's isn't a day room, its an All The Bloody Time Room. Everybody will be in there now and it isn't daytime.And then there is the new resident who looks uncannily familiar to Flo, and makes her fearful and paranoid about events that occurred back in the 1950's, only no one seems to be taking her seriously about her concerns, so she Jack and Elsie decide to take matters into their own hands.Memory is like a character in the book, it's is something that is sometimes there in abundance, stretching far back into the past and at other times, beyond reach. 'You need to think about things for longer before you give up, Florence.I didn't answer, and we were stuck in a wordless argument for a while.'Do you remember taking sandwiches on holiday, when we were children? she said eventually. 'Do you remember going to Whitby?'I said I remembered but I wasn't sure.She could tell straight away, because nothing much gets past Elsie.'Think, Florence,' she said. 'Think.'I tried. Sometimes, you feel a memory before you see it. Even though your eyes can't quite find it, you can smell it and taste it, and hear it shouting to you from the back of your mind.'Ham and tomato' I said. 'With boiled eggs!'Three Things About Elsie is a delightful read, a book written with tremendous empathy and compassion by a writer who has been close to the elderly and listened, and seen them for who they are and have always been, that the bodily exterior and instances of confusion aren't what defines them.She portrays these characters with integrity and humour, I had the feeling often as I read that I was watching these scenes happen, so vividly are they drawn, so clear the voices and intentions of the characters. She creates a mystery that intrigues the reader, making me not want to put the book down, desperate to know what was going to happen next and always with that air of doubt, about what is real and what might be the confusion of an elderly lady, but never mind that for as we read, we are right there with Flo, Jack and Elsie, moving on from one clue to the next, following them in their devilish escapades and hoping that all will come right in the end. I'm not surprised this book is being adored and appreciated by so many readers, Joanna Cannon captures the soul of Flo and we recognise the vulnerability of ageing and only been seen for the deteriorating body and mind that isn't who we are at all.Three Things About Elsie has been nominated for the Women's Prize For Fiction 2018. Click on the link to read about the 16 novels nominated.
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  • Kate (GirlReading)
    January 1, 1970
    Three Things About Elsie was a surprising yet heartfelt and gentle story, with lovable characters and a mystery that kept me turning its pages.
  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    Three Things About Elsie is filled with some lovely touches of humour, poignancy, and perceptive observations on life.As well as this, it invites the reader into a mystery regarding a man from our main character Florence's past.Florence is in her eighties and living in managed accommodation for the elderly. Elsie is her best friend - this is the first of the three things about her. As the book commences, Florence has fallen in her flat, and she is thinking about recent events in her life, tellin Three Things About Elsie is filled with some lovely touches of humour, poignancy, and perceptive observations on life.As well as this, it invites the reader into a mystery regarding a man from our main character Florence's past.Florence is in her eighties and living in managed accommodation for the elderly. Elsie is her best friend - this is the first of the three things about her. As the book commences, Florence has fallen in her flat, and she is thinking about recent events in her life, telling us about Elsie, and about another friend in the flats, Jack, and also about a new arrival, a man who brings back past memories for Florence and causes her to embark on solving a mystery buried in her past, if she can just reach within her mind and find the answers. Joanna Cannon writes with warmth and in a compassionate, honest way in dealing with dementia and ageing, as well as portraying the bonds of friendship and companionship. There are many beautiful observations and expressions once again in Joanna Cannon's writing, as I found there were in the author’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, but this time, for me, there is a stronger and more compelling story to go with it.I enjoyed the stories woven in about the side characters of Miss Ambrose and Handy Simon, both with their issues of self-doubt and self-discovery, though I felt I would have liked to know a little more about Jack, for him to have felt just a little more fleshed out as a character. The book cover is a lovely appealing design of Battenberg cake which was very tempting every time I looked at the pattern, and the jigsaw pieces emblematic of Florence trying to piece together the past and find that missing piece in her present.As I said, there were some lovely expressions and thoughts on life, many sentences and passages I marked as I read and which caused me to pause and think, some of which I've shared below.__________Some of my favourite pieces of writing from the book:'She always wore cheerful clothes, it was just a shame her face never went along with it.''A small existence, disappeared. There was nothing left to say she'd even been there. Everything was exactly as it had been before. As if someone had put a bookmark in her life and slammed it shut.''We'd only been there ten minutes and my mind started to wander. It can't help itself. It very often goes for a walk without me, and before I've realised what's going on, it's miles away.''Elsie's father left for the war and returned as a telegram on the mantelpiece.''But sometimes life takes you along a path you only intended to glance down on your way to somewhere else, and when you look back, you realise the past wasn't the straight line you thought it might be. If you're lucky, you eventually move forward, but most of us cross from side to side, tripping up over our second thoughts as we walk through life.''It's strange, because you can put up with all manner of nonsense in your life, all sorts of sadness, and you manage to keep everything on board and march through it, then someone is kind to you and it's the kindness that makes you cry. It's the tiny act of goodness that opens a door somewhere and lets all the misery escape.''It didn't take them long to undo my life. I had spent eighty years building it, but within weeks, they made it small enough to fit into a manila envelope and take along to meetings.''...perhaps it's only in the silence that you're able to hear just how loud your own worrying is.''Nothing he had a go at seemed to fit. Life sometimes felt like trying on the entire contents of a shoe shop, but all of them pinched your toes.'
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  • Maria Chnoic
    January 1, 1970
    "..but love paper-aeroplanes where it pleases. I have found that it settles in the most unlikely of places, and once it has, you're left with the burden of where it has landed for the rest of your life."The three things about Elise are that: She is Florence’s best Friend. She always knows the right thing to say and Well, I instinctively understood the third thing about Elise from the beginning. But some of you may not until the end. And as Flo says it really doesn’t matter much if you know or n "..but love paper-aeroplanes where it pleases. I have found that it settles in the most unlikely of places, and once it has, you're left with the burden of where it has landed for the rest of your life."The three things about Elise are that: She is Florence’s best Friend. She always knows the right thing to say and Well, I instinctively understood the third thing about Elise from the beginning. But some of you may not until the end. And as Flo says it really doesn’t matter much if you know or not. So I will let you find out for yourself at your own pace. This is a tale of an older persons' assisted living home where the new resident may not be all he appears. Is our main protagonist losing her marbles or is a villain from her past back to torment her?In her second novel, Joanna Cannon once more brings to life the extraordinariness of ordinary lives. She speaks of the everyday loneliness that makes up so much of our lives and our deep need for human connections. “The only problem is, I’ve spent so long standing at the edge that when I finally turn away, I doubt there is anyone in this world who will even notice.”She speaks of how we sometimes patronise and rarely listen to the older generation.“It was tempting to imagine Jack had arrived on this earth fully fashioned, grey-haired and stooped, and wearing a flat cap; to imagine all of the residents had jumped from birth to senility in one fatal leap.”She colours our world with beautiful descriptions of the ordinary. “They will lift me up and carry me down the outside steps, and as they do, I will look out over the town, at the liquid ink of the night and the lights that shine from other people’s lives, and it will seem as though I am flying."And she does it all with a dash of good humor“Although I suppose losing your mind can prove quite helpful sometimes, because it does hint there is a possibility, however slim, that you may find it again." At the heart of the story is a mystery related to Florence’s and Elsie's past. It is not very difficult to guess ( I had gathered more or less what it was from the beginning) and in places, it rather depends a little too much on coincidence. However, the charm in Joanna Cannon’s books is the protagonists finally facing their own guilt and understanding their own pasts and presents for what they truly are.Recommended for those who loved Joanna’s first novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and for those who like an older protagonist solving a mystery of her own past such as in Elizabeth Is Missing
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, this book, this lovely lovely book. There are books that move us beyond words. Books that set up home in our hearts. Books that make you see the world that little bit differently. Those are the books that are truly special and ‘Three Things About Elsie’ is one of those books. It is a book that is as wonderful to read as it is to look at. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thank you Joanna Cannon, for bringing Florence, Elsie and Jack into my life!At the heart of this book is a Oh, this book, this lovely lovely book. There are books that move us beyond words. Books that set up home in our hearts. Books that make you see the world that little bit differently. Those are the books that are truly special and ‘Three Things About Elsie’ is one of those books. It is a book that is as wonderful to read as it is to look at. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thank you Joanna Cannon, for bringing Florence, Elsie and Jack into my life!At the heart of this book is a tale of friendship, the friendship between Florence (who certainly did not buy those twenty-three Battenberg cakes in her cupboard) and Elsie, (who is ‘difficult to clip’ when having her toenails seen to). And also their friendship with General Jack, one of the rare male residents. These two ladies have literally been best friend’s the whole of their lives and now they are spending their twilight years at Cherry Tree, sheltered accommodation, full of universal beige and with no actual cherry trees. I love these two ladies, I can picture them perfectly sitting at Flo’s window, watching possibly spying, on the goings-on in the courtyard. When new resident, Gabriel, arrives at Cherry Tree, a ghost from Florence’s past, our intrepid threesome become determined to prove all is not right. The antics these three get up are so entertaining, they are certainly the troublesome, naughty children of Cherry Tree. All the characters in this book leap from the page, they are so true to life it’s hard to believe they are fiction. During Florence’s story, we also get to hear a little from Miss Ambrose, who is second in command at Cherry Tree and Handy Simon, the handy man. The addition of these chapters really makes the story feel more whole. We get to see life from Flo’s point of view but also from the view of the people who care for her. This book really does show what life is like in care homes, from the residents to the workers to the visitors. It’s all too easy to forget that old people are still people and they have lived and are still living, Joanna Cannon has looked at this important subject with so much heart and sympathy. There are so many moments I adored when reading this. My copy is covered with post-its! There are moments where I laughed aloud, many moments when I laughed aloud actually. There are moments I cried. There are moments where I just had to sit and take in what I’d read. Joanna Cannon’s writing is beautiful, I am in awe of her ability to create such wonder with her words. I honestly cannot tell you how much I love this book, I’ve already read it twice and I know I’ll be reading it again. It is something truly special. How I feel about this book can be summed up in one of my favourite quotes from it “it wasn’t always something you could necessarily put down in words. Words are not always adequate.”Three Things, for me, is the most perfect of books. So settle into your favourite reading spot, pour a cup of tea, grab a something yummy (I recommend Battenberg, you can’t go wrong with Battenberg) and prepare to read a story that will touch the innermost corners of your heart and meet characters who will become your friends.
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  • Marianne
    January 1, 1970
    “We explored pockets of the past. Favourite stories were retold, to make sure they hadn’t been forgotten. Scenes were sandpapered down to make them easier to hold. When we walked about the war, we didn’t mention the loss and the fear and the misery; we talked about the friendships instead, and the strange solidarity that is always born of making do. There were people missing from our conversations, and others were coloured in and underlined. Those who made life easier were found again, and those “We explored pockets of the past. Favourite stories were retold, to make sure they hadn’t been forgotten. Scenes were sandpapered down to make them easier to hold. When we walked about the war, we didn’t mention the loss and the fear and the misery; we talked about the friendships instead, and the strange solidarity that is always born of making do. There were people missing from our conversations, and others were coloured in and underlined. Those who made life easier were found again, and those who caused problems were disappeared. It’s the great advantage of reminiscing. The past can be exactly how you wanted it to be the first time around.”Three Things About Elsie is the second novel by British psychiatrist and author, Joanna Cannon. The last month has seen quite a bit of upheaval in eighty-four-year-old Miss Florence Claybourne’s life, and now she’s had a fall. As she lies on the living room floor of her flat at Cherry Tree Sheltered Accommodation, waiting to be discovered and taken care of, Flo (to her close friends) thinks back on the events of the last few weeks.It all started when flat number twelve became vacant, and Gabriel Price moved in. Florence was sure she recognised the new man: it was Ronnie Butler, and that had her puzzled and a bit scared because she knew Ronnie Butler had drowned in 1953. So, what was he doing here, calling himself Gabriel Price? Was she losing her mind? But her best friend since they were little, Elsie agreed they needed to find out what was really going on.Another resident at Cherry Tree, general Jack is soon enlisted in their investigations and proves a willing and able ally. But unravelling this sixty-year-old mystery is going to need Flo’s memory, and that’s not what it used to be. “I can’t find a memory I trust”, she tells Jack. She tries to explain that “…sometimes memories don’t want to be remembered, that they crouch behind all the other memories in the corner of your mind, trying to be unfound.” Unfortunately, Florence is a rather unreliable narrator. Nonetheless, their determination leads them to one witness after another, each providing a clue to nudge Flo’s memory. One thing about Elsie: whenever Florence is feeling uncertain, Elsie reminds her of seemingly insignificant little encounters that illustrate Flo’s kindness. These are revisited in Flo’s mind, but are also shown from a different perspective in conversations between other characters, thus forming delightfully satisfying connections in the story. And they illustrate how these tiny encounters can have a profound effect on lives.Cannon has woven her tale with skill and flair. Her plot is believable, with a well-disguised twist. Her characters are ordinary people with little quirks that make them oh so human and easily recognisable: that elderly lady whose thoughts, however unpalatable, are voiced both aloud, and loud, is someone we all have encountered. They’re leading ordinary, everyday lives, which makes them easy to identify with and care about.Cannon gives her characters many words of wisdom; Flo herself, Elsie, Jack and even Handy Simon make insightful (and often amusing) observations about life.“…I suppose losing your mind can prove quite helpful sometimes, because it does hint there is a possibility, however slim, that you may find it again.”“When your days are small, routine is the only scaffolding that holds you together.”“…Simon wondered where his life ended and their life began, and how we could all be stitched so tightly together, yet the threads between everybody still go unnoticed.” “Sometimes you need to hold on to a small worry, to stop you from reaching out for something bigger.”“When you get older, the years become heavier, though, don’t you think? Some decades weigh more than others.”“…just remember there is so very much more to us than the worst thing we have ever done.”“…the hardest part of losing anyone is that you still have to live with the same scenery. It’s just that the person you are used to isn’t a part of it any more, and all you notice are the gaps where they used to be. It feels as though, if you concentrated hard enough, you could find them again in those empty spaces. Waiting for you.”Joanna Cannon’s second novel, a cold case mystery wrapped inside a charming tale full of wonderful characters, is funny, moving and thought-provoking: another brilliant read from this talented author.
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  • Eric Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    There a special delight in having read an author’s debut novel when it first came out, then reading her follow up novel and discovering common themes and patterns which occur in fascinating variations in both books. A wonderful quality of Cannon’s writing is to create a complex picture of a community in how these networks of people both support each other and can help relieve feelings of isolation/loneliness. She describes how “There is a special kind of silence when you live alone. It hangs aro There a special delight in having read an author’s debut novel when it first came out, then reading her follow up novel and discovering common themes and patterns which occur in fascinating variations in both books. A wonderful quality of Cannon’s writing is to create a complex picture of a community in how these networks of people both support each other and can help relieve feelings of isolation/loneliness. She describes how “There is a special kind of silence when you live alone. It hangs around, waiting for you to find it. You try to cover it up with all sorts of other noises, but it’s always there, at the end of everything else, expecting you.” But her stories show how neighbours and friends can assuage these difficult feelings. Cannon’s debut novel “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep” portrayed a neighbourhood with an absence at its centre. A woman goes missing and two intrepid girls are determined to discover what happened to her. Conversely, in her new novel “Three Things About Elsie” the story centres around an assisted living apartment complex where a new resident arrives, but he might not be who he claims to be. Florence is convinced he’s someone from her past and she sets about trying to uncover the truth about his identity with her lifelong friend Elsie. Cannon’s sensitive narrative shows the large impact that small gestures of goodwill can have, the intricate complexities and labyrinthine nature of memory and the story is thickly drizzled with a warm coating of nostalgia.Read my full review of Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon on LonesomeReader
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  • Ferdy
    January 1, 1970
    Too slow, too predictable and not enough story. I didn't mind the characters much, they weren't anything brilliant but they were entertaining enough, although Flo was mostly a total pain.The Elsie twist was obvious right from the off, I think it was meant to be a bit of a surprise but it didn't work. What was the point of Miss Ambrose or Handy Simon's POVs? They added very little to the story and seemed so separate from Flo and company.Jack and Flo's friendship was great, as was the focus on old Too slow, too predictable and not enough story. I didn't mind the characters much, they weren't anything brilliant but they were entertaining enough, although Flo was mostly a total pain.The Elsie twist was obvious right from the off, I think it was meant to be a bit of a surprise but it didn't work. What was the point of Miss Ambrose or Handy Simon's POVs? They added very little to the story and seemed so separate from Flo and company.Jack and Flo's friendship was great, as was the focus on old age and care homes.
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  • Sakshi Kathuria
    January 1, 1970
    I did not see the book eye to eye much but a good read nevertheless keeping the mystery element alluring & captivating.
  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Florence and Elsie have been best friends since they were children.  Their lives have been intertwined since a chance meeting on a bus and through tragedy in their adult lives.Now in their eighties, the two forever friends live at Cherry Tree, an assisted living community for the elderly.  Florence has fallen in her apartment and while waiting for help to arrive she looks back over her life, sharing secrets about her past, including one she has never shared with anyone.The story wanders between Florence and Elsie have been best friends since they were children.  Their lives have been intertwined since a chance meeting on a bus and through tragedy in their adult lives.Now in their eighties, the two forever friends live at Cherry Tree, an assisted living community for the elderly.  Florence has fallen in her apartment and while waiting for help to arrive she looks back over her life, sharing secrets about her past, including one she has never shared with anyone.The story wanders between the past and present; Florence's memory can be somewhat spotty so she relies on Elsie to help her remember the important details of the past. A man has recently moved into Cherry Tree, giving her a fright.  She's sure the man is Ronnie Butler ...but Ronnie drowned in 1953.  This man goes by the name of Gabriel Price.It's only when Mr. Price moves in that Florence notices items in her apartment are moved from their normal places and things appear that she doesn't remember buying.Florence knows her memory isn't great but she's worried that her increasing confusion and these new events will send her to Greenbank, a facility which is basically the end of the road for senior care.  Ms. Ambrose, the director of Cherry Tree, is keeping close watch on her and has placed her on a month long probationary period to determine if she's fit to stay.As Florence and Elsie attempt to find out the truth about new resident Gabriel Price, we learn about the man he resembles, Ronnie Butler, and what happened the night he drowned.A charming tale of friendship, loyalty, and aging with a mystery that unravels leisurely as Florence shares her story.  I loved that small, "ordinary" details mentioned in passing later became connected in the grand scheme of the story and tied together characters in a surprising way.Fans of Cannon's first novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, will not be disappointed with her latest story once again centered around a mystery and a strong theme of friendship.If you love feel good / uplifting stories like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick, or A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, I think this is definitely a book to add to your TBR.Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  Three Things About Elsie is scheduled for release on August 7, 2018.For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Tracey
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful book. Florence has filled my heart with fun, sadness and hope. Although not my usual genre, I'm glad I have read this.
  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    Elsie is Florence’s best friend, has been since childhood and is the person who helps Florence to remember things.  Unfortunately, Florence needs quite a lot of help these days to remember things, not just from the past but in the present.  Although there are some things you don’t share, not even with your best friend.  Some secrets are best left tucked away where no-one can find them.   However, memory can play tricks on you so the things you most want to remember remain elusive whilst things y Elsie is Florence’s best friend, has been since childhood and is the person who helps Florence to remember things.  Unfortunately, Florence needs quite a lot of help these days to remember things, not just from the past but in the present.  Although there are some things you don’t share, not even with your best friend.  Some secrets are best left tucked away where no-one can find them.   However, memory can play tricks on you so the things you most want to remember remain elusive whilst things you’d rather forget come floating to the surface unbidden.The reader quickly learns two of the three things about Elsie, but the third thing?  Well, there are a few small clues for the careful reader.Amongst many other themes, Three Things About Elsie explores how small actions (or inactions) may have long term consequences, how one should never underestimate the impact of small acts of kindness and that most people have hidden qualities they may not even realise they possess.I have to say the mystery around the new resident and its resolution didn’t completely work for me as there were things I found too improbable.  However, I loved the way there were more pieces of the jigsaw (to reference the cover) than one first imagined and how the author cleverly brought these together, with small, beautifully formed and unanticipated links between events and characters.  Talking of the cover, was there ever a better use of a Battenburg cake in a story line?    Plus you may never think quite the same way again about a packet of cheese and onion crisps.There are some wonderful nuggets of writing – too many to quote them all, but here are a few of my favourites:‘It makes you wonder if you did have a purpose, but it floated past you one day, and you just didn’t think to flag it down.’‘We explored pockets of the past. Favourite stories were retold, to make sure they hadn’t been forgotten.  Scenes were sandpapered down to make them easier to hold.’  ‘It’s the greatest advantage of reminiscing.  The past can be exactly how you wanted it to be the first time around.’Although one can’t help falling in love with Florence, I grew really fond of some of the supporting characters, in particular Miss Ambrose, Simon and Jack.  So I have to take issue with Miss Ambrose when she remarks, “Most of us are just secondary characters.  We take up all the space between the few people who manage to make a mark.”I really enjoyed the book.  Yes, there is sadness in the story (you will probably shed a little tear at the end) but there are also wonderful moments of humour, both observational and in the dialogue.  For example, when the hotel owner is asked to provide a room for interviews during a trip to Whitby:“Maybe the television room?” said Miss Ambrose.“That’s out of the question.  It’s Tuesday,“ said Gail, rather mysteriously, but she didn’t elaborate.  “I suppose I could you let you have the staff rest room.  Although you’ll need to be out by eight, because I’ve got a new shift coming in and I’ll need to change my slacks.”    [It’s the word ‘slacks’ that really tickled me.]Or, decorating a room for a dance:‘Miss Ambrose’s bunting stretched all the way around the room, except for a small gap in the corner due to an oversize painting of the Princess of Wales.  Simon and Miss Ambrose both stood with their hands on their hips, admiring their efforts.“Shame about Diana.” Miss Ambrose looked over at the corner.“I could get the Sellotape,” said Simon.Miss Ambrose stared at him. “I meant passing away so young.”I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers The Borough Press in return for an honest review.
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