Three Things About Elsie tells the story of 84-year-old Florence, who has been lifelong friends with Elsie, who has fallen in her flat and waits to be rescued. As she tells her story, we find out she has a secret, a secret she promised she would keep forever. And Florence is worried her forever is now.
Last year I read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and it instantly became an all-time favorite. I fell in love with Joanna Cannon’s writing and her two main characters. The story was sweet, funny, poignant and overall beautiful. Three Things About Elsie was one of my most anticipated reads this 2018 and I wanted it to be my first this year. And I have to say it was a fantastic book!
It’s funny because when I read the blurb of this novel, I thought: “well, this is definitely not similar to TTWGAS at all”. However, as I kept reading about Florence and Elsie, I realized Three Things About Elsie was actually super similar to her previous novel. The structure: two female friends investigating despite being total amateurs and hence facing several obstacles. The humour, the witty dialogue, the innocence, the meaning of friendship…
The plot started off a bit slow but it gradually got more and more engaging. In my opinion, Three Things About Elsie keeps getting better as the story progresses. There was some gaslighting, excellent (and hilarious) dialogue and a few chapters narrated by a couple of secondary characters. Joanna Cannon has the ability of making you care about everyone she writes about, she excels at crafting vulnerable characters that will forever stay in your mind.
I particularly enjoyed the book’s structure, featuring Florence’s present chapters where she foreshadows what she thinks is going to happen and then switching back to one month before the incident, when it all started. I couldn’t wait to know what was exactly going on. This is contemporary fiction, but it has a mystery at its heart.
There was a particular aspect about this novel that I found extremely predictable in the way that we’ve all experienced this type of ending before. And it works, it certainly does, but I’m afraid it’s not going to surprise me anymore, which yes, it’s kind of sad, but then again it’s my fault because I overthink every small detail I read. Don’t worry, because there were plenty of other small surprises, and there was one tiny detail which wasn’t even relevant in terms of plot but it made me all tear-eyed. And it wasn’t the only time I cried. The last sentence of the book was so beautiful…
I have no issues with this book whatsoever, but I did love The Trouble With Goats and Sheep a bit more, maybe because it was the first or because I can’t resist a quirky child narrator. But Three Things About Elsie is a wonderful and lovely book that I would recommend to everyone.
Netgalley, The Borough Press, 2018