MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Three Things About Elsie

by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon X
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2019, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"How very strange," I whispered.

"I know." Elsie smoothed tea cake crumbs from the tablecloth. "It only seems like yesterday."

The man paced the room. There was something about the way he lifted his collar, the shrug of his shoulders, and it made the world turn in my stomach. "It does. But it can't be."

"It is. Ninety-eight. I've counted them whilst you've been wasting your time staring out of that window."

I frowned at Elsie. "Ninety-eight what?"

"Days until Christmas."

"I didn't mean—" I looked back, but the lightbulb had given up, and the man with the collar and the shrug of the shoulders had vanished. "I thought I recognized someone."

Elsie peered into the darkness. "Perhaps it was one of the gardeners?"

"No, at number twelve." I looked at her. I changed my mind and turned back. "I must be wrong."

"It's dark, Florence. It's easy to make a mistake."

"Yes, that's what's happened," I said. "I made a mistake."

Elsie went back to sweeping crumbs, and I pulled the sleeves down on my cardigan.

"Shall we have another bar on the fire?" I said. "It's gone a bit cold, hasn't it?"

"Florence, it's like an oven in here."

I stared into the shadows, and the window of number twelve stared back at me. "I feel as though someone just walked over my grave."

"Your grave?"

I definitely must have made a mistake.

Because anything else was impossible.

"It's just a figure of speech," I said. "That's all."

* * *

We were halfway through Tuesday before I saw him again.

Elsie was having her toenails seen to, and it always takes a while, because she's difficult to clip. One of the uniforms was dusting the flat, and I was keeping my eye on her, because I've found people do a much more thorough job if they're supervised. They seem to appreciate it when I point out something they've missed.

"How would we manage without you, Miss Claybourne," they say.

This particular one was especially slapdash. Flat feet. Small wrists. Earrings in her nose, her lips, her eyebrows—everywhere except her ears.

There was a mist. The kind of mist that hammers the sky to the horizon to stop any of the daylight getting in, but I saw him straightaway, as soon as I turned to the window. He sat on one of the benches in the middle of the courtyard, staring up at number twelve. He was wearing the same hat and the same gray overcoat, but that wasn't why I recognized him. It was because of the way he pulled at his collar. The way he wore his trilby. The very look of him. You can spot someone you know, even in a strange place or a crowd of people. There's something about a person that fits into your eyes.

I wanted to point him out to the girl with the earrings. I wanted to make sure she could see him as well. You hear about it, don't you? Old people's minds conjuring things up from nowhere and inventing all sorts of nonsense to fill the empty space, but the girl was in the middle of having a conversation with herself, and pushing a duster around the mantelpiece. And I was on probation. Miss Ambrose hadn't gone into detail, but I was fairly certain hallucinations wouldn't go down particularly well.

When I looked again, the man was still sitting there, but his elbows were resting on the back of the seat, just like they always used to. As I watched, I felt the color leave my face. I wanted to knock on the glass, make him turn around, but I couldn't.

"Miss Claybourne?"

Because if I did, I might never be able to look away.

"Miss Claybourne? Is everything all right?"

I didn't move from the window. "No it isn't," I said. "It's about as far from all right as it can get."

"But I've been over the mantelpiece twice. If I dust it again, it'll make me late for the next one."

Excerpted from Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon. Copyright © 2018 by Joanna Cannon. Excerpted by permission of Scribner. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Cozy Mysteries

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Dirt
    American Dirt
    by Jeanine Cummins
    Jeanine Cummins' American Dirt hasn't just been positively reviewed by BookBrowse First Impressions ...
  • Book Jacket: In the Dream House
    In the Dream House
    by Carmen Maria Machado
    In the introduction to In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado (a National Book Award finalist for ...
  • Book Jacket: Father of Lions
    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan
    Our readers have given high marks to Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan. Out of 21 reviewers, 18 ...
  • Book Jacket
    Girl, Woman, Other
    by Bernardine Evaristo
    As we meet Amma, a 50-something playwright finally experiencing mainstream success in Bernardine ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Lost Man
by Jane Harper

"Strong characters, riveting plot and an honest look at life in the Australian outback make it easy to give this 5-stars!"
—BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Dirt
    by Jeanine Cummins

    A new American classic, and the first book to ever score a perfect 5-stars in BookBrowse's early reader program!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Lady Clementine
    by Marie Benedict

    An illuminating look at one of history's most unusual and extraordinary women, Clementine Churchill.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Adventurer's Son

Publishing Soon!
The Adventurer's Son

"A brave and marvelous book. A page-turner that will rip your heart out."
--Jon Krakauer

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I A Broke, D F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.