Monday, 22 January 2018

Three Things about Elsie

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Published by The Borough Press
January 2018

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?

This is Joanna Cannon's follow-up to the outstanding debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep which I loved when I read it this time in 2016.  I was slightly worried if she would manage to pull out another wonderful book or whether this would be the dodgy second novel that you sometimes see authors produce.  Having finished the book this weekend I am thrilled to report that this is not the case at all.  This is a very different novel to the first but equally as wonderful.

Our central characters are all octogenarians who live at the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly - we spend our time with Elsie, Florence and Jack, the managers of the home Miss Bissell  and Miss Ambrose  and the caretaker Handy Simon.  It soon becomes apparent that Florence is suffering from dementia and is threatened with a move to another care home Greenbank if her 'performance' doesn't improve in a month.  Elsie, her best friend, is her helping hand, always telling her to remember three things from the past so that she doesn't forget the present.  Their daily lives are quite mundane until a new resident moves in, a Mr Gabriel Price who seems polite, capable and a friend to everyone.  However, for Florence this sparks a memory of the past, of a man she knew as Ronnie Butler who drowned sixty years earlier.  The trouble is, who is going to believe anything a woman with memory problems says?

Joanna Cannon takes us on a journey with Florence from the present day back through her memories of growing up with Elsie and of the infamous Ronnie Butler.  Who is he and why does Florence think he has now returned from the dead?  There are some wonderful moments of humour throughout, some characters you will both love and detest and some emotional scenes too.  Three Things about Elsie has them all in spades and I predict this will become another huge bestseller.  Grab a cuppa, a slice of battenburg cake and devour the book that everyone will be talking about this year before I run out of superlatives to describe it!!!!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

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