Summary and book reviews of Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

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

Book Summary

The bestselling author of the The Trouble with Goats and Sheep delivers a suspenseful and emotionally satisfying novel about a lifelong friendship, a devastating secret, and the small acts of kindness that bring people together.

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 bit more explaining.

Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she thinks about her friend Elsie and wonders if a terrible secret from their past is about to come to light. If the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Three Things About Elsie is a story about forever friends on the twisting path of life. As we uncover their buried secrets, we learn how the fine threads of humanity connect us all.

CHAPTER ONE

It all started a month ago. A Friday morning. I was glancing around the room, wondering what I'd done with my television magazine, when I noticed.

It was facing the wrong way. The elephant on the mantelpiece. It always points towards the window, because I read somewhere it brings you luck. Of course, I know it doesn't. It's like putting new shoes on a table, though, or crossing on the stairs. There's a corner of your head feels uncomfortable if you don't follow the rules. Normally, I would have blamed one of the uniforms, but I always go over everything with a duster after they've gone. There's usually a need for it and it helps to pass the time. So I would have spotted it straightaway. I notice everything.

"Do you notice anything different?"

Miss Ambrose had arrived for our weekly chat. Fidgety. Smells of hair spray. A cousin in Truro. I decided to test her. She scanned the room, but any fool could tell she wasn't concentrating.

...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Why do you think author Joanna Cannon decided to set the novel in a nursing home?
  2. On page 63, Florence says, "I needed someone to hold my worrying for me." How does Elsie play this role for her?
  3. The act of naming and renaming things is a recurring theme in the novel. Why do you think this is significant?
  4. Did Florence's failing memory change your understanding of events at Cherry Tree? Does it make her a less reliable narrator? Why or why not?
  5. "Simon wondered where his life ended and their life began, and how we could all be stitched so tightly together, yet the threads between everybody still go unnoticed" (page 124). How does this idea of the bonds between humanity play out throughout the novel?
  6. "'You've got to find ...
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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Three Things About Elsie is a satisfying cozy mystery featuring a charming cast of characters in a setting not often represented in literature. In addition to its escapades and revelations, it’s sprinkled with bits of philosophical wisdom and humor centered around aging...continued

Full Review (692 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

Media Reviews

The Sunday Express (UK)
Funny, melancholy, acutely observant ... your heart will finally crack in two on the last page.

The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Irresistibly good-hearted ... captivating

The Guardian (UK)
Powerful and profound.

Publishers Weekly
While readers are likely to guess the mysterious 'third thing' about Elsie early on, and the book's shocks depend on some unlikely coincidences, Cannon makes her protagonist sympathetic and touches lightly on how easy it is to make false assumptions about the elderly. Readers may come for the mystery, but they'll stay to spend time with Florence.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A rich portrait of old age and friendship stretched over a fascinating frame.

Reader Reviews

Sandi W.

Grabbing Premise, fizzeling story...
A study in aging - the loneliness, the loss of memory and the secrets kept for years. Florence Claybourne has fallen in her apartment. She lives in a retirement home and she knows she will soon be found. As she lays on her floor she begins to ...   Read More

Write your own review!

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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Cozy Mysteries

Angela Lansbury in the cozy mystery show Murder She WroteThe mystery is one of the most popular genres of literature, and the "cozy mystery," a term coined in the late 20th century, holds steady as a favorite subset of crime fiction.

Cozy mysteries are marked by compelling, yet relatable characters. The "detective" is an amateur, thrown into an unexpected, undesired situation. Most often these stories feature an educated, pleasant, and mature woman as the star of the story. Importantly, this main character is someone the reader could imagine befriending. She may have a special interest or skill, but overall she is more ordinary than extraordinary.

An insular community, like a small town, confined resort area, or a retirement community, as in the case of Three Things About Elsie and The Last...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Three Things About Elsie, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Secret Keeper of Jaipur
    The Secret Keeper of Jaipur
    by Alka Joshi
    Alka Joshi's The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is the sequel to her 2020 bestseller The Henna Artist and ...
  • Book Jacket: Seek You
    Seek You
    by Kristen Radtke
    In the first pages of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke's sophomore ...
  • Book Jacket: The Man Who Hated Women
    The Man Who Hated Women
    by Amy Sohn
    If debates over women's reproductive health seem stuck in an earlier era — the fact that birth...
  • Book Jacket: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
    The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
    by Honorée Fannone Jeffers
    Honorée Fannone Jeffers' The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois explores the Black experience in ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
In Every Mirror She's Black
by Lola Akinmade Akerstrom
An arresting debut for anyone looking for insight into what it means to be a Black woman in the world.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Never Saw Me Coming
    by Vera Kurian

    "Fun, entertaining and hard to put down."
    The New York Journal of Books

  • Book Jacket

    Blind Man's Bluff
    by James Tate Hill

    A writer's humorous and often-heartbreaking tale of losing his sight—and how he hid it from the world.

Who Said...

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Pull Y U B T B

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.