Three Things About Elsie

by Joanna Cannon

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Featured image for Three Things About Elsie

Another one for the Storygraph’s onboarding challenge. This challenge was to read a book from the five-star selection of a ‘similar user’. I flicked through a handful of users that the site selected for me and was mostly surprised by how many of the choices offered up I’d already read, which gave me quite a lot of confidence that this challenge was going  to throw up something I’d enjoy. And yes, please recommend me more book with Battenbergs and jigsaws on the cover, that’s an easy win for me!

The central character is Florence, who is eighty-four and living in sheltered accommodation with her lifelong friend Elsie. The story concerns the appearance of a man who looks exactly like someone Florence and Elsie knew in their youth, but Ronnie Butler drowned, didn’t he? With dementia setting in Florence is a great example of an unreliable narrator, she’s not telling you half a story for any reason other than she can only remember half the story. Is she being tricked or is she losing her memory? The reader has to piece the jigsaw of pieces together for her. 

Two of the nursing centre staff also narrate sections, I especially liked the handyman Simon’s parts and the development of his character through the book. The author’s done a great job of tying up a load of loose ends, in another book I might find that unrealistic but here there’s so much that might or might not be that it really works to have everything neatly packaged by the end. 

I’m giving it five stars myself and will happily pass the recommendation on!