STARRED REVIEW
August 2018

Little mysteries of a long life

By Joanna Cannon

Florence isn’t sure what she would do without her lifelong best friend, Elsie. They’ve known each other since childhood, and now Elsie keeps 84-year-old Florence company at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly.

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BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, August 2018

Florence isn’t sure what she would do without her lifelong best friend, Elsie. They’ve known each other since childhood, and now Elsie keeps 84-year-old Florence company at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly.

But right this moment Florence is alone. She’s fallen in her flat, and she’s waiting for someone to notice. While she waits, Florence reflects on her friend and their latest shenanigans.

In Three Things About Elsie, Joanna Cannon (The Trouble with Goats and Sheep) intersperses Florence’s moments alone on her floor with recent Cherry Tree adventures and her recollections of days long gone. A new resident has moved into the home, and Florence is convinced he’s the man who killed Elsie’s sister 60 years earlier—but he also appears to be the man whose burial they watched many years ago after he drowned. The ladies and a fellow resident, Jack, set out on a mission to uncover the man’s true identity. Their adventures are amusing and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. But there are serious moments, too. As the friends examine their pasts, Florence begins to recall moments she had forgotten—or perhaps blocked out. But her friends stand beside her through it.

“You can’t define yourself by a single moment,” Jack reminds Florence. “That moment doesn’t make you who you are.”

“Then what does?” Florence asks.

“Oh, Florence. Everything else,” he says. “Everything else.”

Cannon’s novel is a heartwarming meditation on friendship and the way people we love shape us for the rest of our days.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie

By Joanna Cannon
Scribner
ISBN 9781501187384

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