“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 a man who died sixty years ago?
From the author of ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.
“’No matter how long or short a time you are here, the world is ever so slightly different because you existed.’”
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 Cherry Tree 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.
“We held hands as we climbed hills, as we waited on pavements, and as we ran through fields, as we held hands as we faced all the things in life we didn’t think we could manage alone.”
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.
“History is littered with people who achieved great things in old age.”
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.
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – ALL THE STARS IN THE SKY!!
Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. Her first novel ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ was a top ten bestseller in both hardback and paperback. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog – Seth.
‘Three Things About Elsie’ is published in hardback on the 11th January by Borough Press. A huge great big thank you to Joanna Cannon and Harper Collins for my gorgeous signed advanced reading copy.
If you fell in love with Three Things too then try these next:
‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman
‘Two Cousins of Azov’ by Andrea Bennett
‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy’ by Rachel Joyce
‘Elizabeth Is Missing’ by Emma Healey