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Three Things About Elsie

Review

Three Things About Elsie

THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE is the second novel for British psychiatrist-turned-author Joanna Cannon, following THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP.

As the story begins, Florence (Flo only to her good friends) Claybourne is lying on the sitting room floor of her flat at Cherry Tree, a senior housing complex. She took a bad tumble, fell and, unable to get back on her feet, is patiently waiting for someone to come to her aid. At 84, Florence is an outspoken lady and fiercely independent. Because of her continued assertions that someone is breaking into her flat and rearranging her possessions, especially the little china elephant, the administrators of the housing complex have a watchful eye on her. If her odd behavior ticks enough boxes, she will be sent to Greenbank, a senior facility where she would be under careful and constant observation for her remaining years. Florence is resisting with every ounce of her being not to be exiled to Greenbank. In fact, most of the residents of Cherry Hill live in fear of being shuffled off there.

"It will take a thorough reading of this quirky, charming novel to unearth the third thing about Elsie."

As Florence lies on the floor for several hours waiting to be rescued by any number of kindly souls, her mind takes a jumbled trip down memory lane. The past, especially a dark secret she has been keeping most of her life, plays out before her. The reader is introduced to Ronnie, the villain. Back to the present now. A mysterious new resident recently arrived at Cherry Tree. He strongly resembles Ronnie but uses the name Gabriel Price. He seems to be everywhere, and his very physical presence is both threatening and intimidating. But Ronnie is dead, isn’t he? Didn’t Florence see him drown that awful night? She and Elsie, her friend since childhood, share the secret of the tragedy.

This story is peopled with believable characters like Handyman Simon, who freely spouts odd bits of factual information. He is tasked with keeping a watchful eye on the residents. Then there is Miss Bissell, the one who is ticking the boxes on Florence’s chart, and her underling Anthea Ambrose, who never really intended to spend her working years at a place like Cherry Tree. Jack and Elsie, Florence’s good friends and amateur detectives, attempt to help her unravel the mystery of the newcomer who Florence insists is the murderer Ronnie.

About Elsie. Yes, there are three things the reader should know about Elsie. First, she is Florence’s best friend. Second, she always knows just what to say to make Flo feel better. The third thing? This is the tricky part. It will take a thorough reading of this quirky, charming novel to unearth the third thing about Elsie.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on August 10, 2018

Three Things About Elsie
by Joanna Cannon

  • Publication Date: August 7, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1501187384
  • ISBN-13: 9781501187384