Review: Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon

So, I’m not sure what it was that attracted me to reading this book. I’d seen maybe one or two posts about it, and the cover was pretty, and maybe that’s all it takes to pique my interest in a book these days? We’ll never know (though it certainly seems that way).

Three Things About Elsie is a sweet tale of growing old, and though it didn’t quite hit the mark for me as it was a fairly predictable story in ways, there were certainly some lovely qualities about this read.

Let’s start with the synopsis though:

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?

Now, I have to admit that I guessed the ‘third thing about Elsie’ fairly early on in the book and from there I found myself a bit distracted by clues or conversations that pointed to my being right, so I perhaps wasn’t as invested in the book as I could have been if there’d been a more subtle hinting at Thing #3.

However, the characters in this book are for the most part, and interesting (though motley) crew ranging from their 30s right up to octogenarians. Jack was such a lovable character, keeping the ladies in check and never hesitating to lend a hand or a kind word.

Miss Ambrose, when seen from Florence’s perspective, could be minorly irritating, but when reading her from a 26 year old’s view as I was, I could definitely relate to her frustrations and attempts to do her best while dealing with the quirks of the elderly people she cared for.

And then there was Handy Simon. What a guy. I actually loved the sections written about his part in the story and his oddities were completely believable and definitely made him a loveable and fairly relatable character. I’m glad he got as much of a part in the book as he did, despite being a side character to the main storyline.

There was an underlying ‘mystery’ in this book around Gabriel Price/Ronnie Butler, and what exactly happened on the night Florence continually tries to remember. I have to admit that while I was satisfied with the neat-bow ending, I didn’t have a strong enough engagement with the ‘mystery’ itself to really remember it throughout the book. Which may seem strange, but I think I got sidetracked by the lovely cast of characters and sort of bobble along this book rather than properly being engaged with the storyline itself.

So, while it’s not been my favourite read of the year, and it won’t be winning any awards in my books, there were still some moments of happiness gleaned from the book, and some gorgeous lines to keep me reading. One of my favourites (and one that struck a chord) was: “Sometimes you need to hold on to a small worry, to stop you from reaching out for something bigger.”

And, perhaps, the greater pull this story has is simply how it narrates the troubles and emotions that come with growing older. Losing your independence, and recognising this though not being able to stop it. Having people stop truly listening to you, waving it off as old-person nonsense. Worrying over nothing, if only to stop you thinking about the ones you’ve already loved and lost.

“It’s always the small decisions that change a life” 

Rating: An easy read with a bit of heart, those who enjoy more emotional, character-driven narratives may enjoy this more than those who need a fully engaging plot.


Have you read Three Things About Elsie? What did you think?

I haven’t seen many review of this one yet so I’m curious to know what others have liked (or disliked) about the story 🙂

M xx

Buy it here or here (AU/NZ only).

2 thoughts on “Review: Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s