• Publication date: 11 Jan 2018
• Publisher: The Borough Press
The other day, I predicted that a different book would be THE book of the year. It may well be, deserves to be, but I think that Three Things About Elsie might just be a strong contender. I feel absolutely privileged to have been able to read this book. Love the cover too. With thanks to the author and publisher via NetGalley for my ARC copy
My Thoughts & Review
This is a really beautifully written book about quite a difficult subject with such clever descriptive prose that I felt like framing sentences and even paragraphs from the book and displaying them on my walls. Or even turning them into fridge magnets so that I never forget them! Which leads me nicely into the subject matter of the book which deals very sensitively with the whole issue of memory and forgetfulness as we age.
There are many interesting and insightful glimpses into the whole subject coming from the characters themselves.
As someone now in their sixties I’m painfully aware of possible memory loss and watch myself for signs. Although the characters in the book are of my parents generation, time marches on and it’s just around the corner.
The three main characters are Florence, Jack and Elsie, all in their 80’s who live in retirement complex. One that allows them to maintain a level of independence but with elements of care. The three friends stick together and look out for each other.
Florence has known Elsie since childhood and appreciates her unwavering loyalty and good advice, especially about encouraging her to remember important details. Elsie teaches Florence about ‘the long second’ that gives her more time to remember important details. All the more important because Florence is in danger of being moved to a nursing home and is already on ‘probation’ awaiting her fate and the final decision about her move.
Into the complex appears a mysterious, dangerous character from Florence and Elsie’s past who is pretending to be someone he isn’t. The three friends Flo, Elsie and Jack turn into sleuths to keep an eye on him and prevent themselves from being targeted by him. Their behaviour however, that could be interpreted in other ways, brings them more into the spotlight of Miss Ambrose the administrator/supervisor.
The other intriguing character in the story are ‘Handy’ Simon the handyman caretaker who is a mass of self doubt but a sympathetic character who feels that he never quite lived up to his hero father, a firefighter who saved almost a whole family but never forgot the one he left behind.
A truly excellent read and one that will stay with me as long as I remember it!
I haven’t yet read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep the previous and highly acclaimed book by this author that I must now read. (Noticed I already have it on kindle)
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. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep was her first novel. Three Things About Elsie is her second novel