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review 2019-04-27 21:38
When the past catches up
Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon

You may recall my review of one of my favorite books of 2017 titled The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon which centered on a small cul-de-sac in England and the mystery of a missing child. While I was discussing this book with a patron she asked, "Have you read her newest book?" then grabbed it off the shelf to show it to me. I took Three Things About Elsie  home that very night and began it with pretty high expectations. I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed. 


The main character, Florence, is an elderly woman living in an assisted living facility called Cherry Tree. The reader discovers that she's fallen down in her apartment and is awaiting imminent rescue. (What a way to start off a story!) The chapters flip flop between her lying there fantasizing about who will come to her aid and remembering incidents from the last several days and the distant past. Florence's best friend is Elsie and she talks at length about the reasons why she values her friendship beyond all others but over the course of the book she adds to her social circle Jack (retired military man and fellow inmate), Handy Simon (groundskeeper and handyman), and Miss Ambrose (second in command of the facility and at first Florence's sworn enemy). As with Cannon's previous book, this is a mystery set within a confined location (with a few brief journeys away) with one doozy of an ending. (I worked out one vital piece of the puzzle halfway through and agonized up to the very end that I had it wrong.) This book is not only about a mystery but also gives the reader a peek into the world of the elderly and what it's like caring for them. Topics like dementia, mental illness, loneliness, and self-worth are rather obliquely worked into the narrative. [A/N: Check the tags to this post if you want a bit of a spoiler-y sneak peek to another theme of the book.] This is a great book for a cozy weekend at home where you're happy to just sit and read for hours. The characters are fully realized and it's obvious that Joanna has a gift for localized mystery and drama. 8/10


What's Up Next: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen


What I'm Currently Reading: Redwall by Brian Jacques

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-10-28 17:01
Three Things About Elsie
Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon
As Florence lies waiting on the floor for someone to notice that she has fallen, she recalls key moments in her life. I found this moment, sad. Florence is supposedly being taken care of in an assistant living center and the longer I read, I had to wonder how long it was going to be before someone actually found her. This notion stayed with me as I read the rest of the novel.
Florence lives at Cherry Tree homes for the elderly with her best friend Elsie. They enjoy watching the world from Florence’s window. When an elderly residence passes away, Florence comments about how quickly life and possessions are taken away and disappear. It isn’t long before a new resident moves in to fill the vacancy. Florence believes this man is someone from their past but yet, the man’s name is not the same.
It becomes a mystery as Florence and Elsie investigate this new residence’s identity. This man who looks and talks like a man from their past yet his name does not match the man they used to know.
I enjoyed the author’s writings, some of her sentences were fantastic and worth highlighting (but not in a library’s copy). I still had this concern about Florence as she laid on the floor while telling this story, which was troubling to me. I enjoyed the story, just not as much as I thought I would.


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review 2018-01-28 00:00
Three Things About Elsie
Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon 3.5 Stars
This was BBC Radio 2 Book club read for January and I have enjoyed many of of the reads on this list. Three things about Elsie is sentimental, witty and a charming read about ageing, memory loss and friendship.

The novel opens with the main character, 84 year old Florence lying on the floor of her flat in a sheltered accommodation village, While she awaits for help she starts to reminisce about things that have happened in her life and how she struggles with making sense of her past as her memory is now constantly letting her down and she struggles with secrets that have come back to haunt her.

A story about aging and memory loss can be sometimes difficult to read but Three things about Elsie is quite witty and a gentle read and its hard not to care about Florence and her friendship with Elsie.
There is a mystery at the heart of this novel which was entertaining but was quite predictable. The story does however give food for thought as we are all in the ageing process and sometimes its not easy to think about what the future holds but Three Things about Elsie is quite an endearing read and not at all depressing.

I think readers who enjoyed [b:Elizabeth Is Missing|18635113|Elizabeth Is Missing|Emma Healey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1388883559s/18635113.jpg|24946905] or [b:A Man Called Ove|18774964|A Man Called Ove|Fredrik Backman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1405259930s/18774964.jpg|21619954]may well enjoy this novel.
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review 2017-08-04 18:18
The devil is in the details
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep - Joanna Cannon

It's ironic that after I made the post about not finding enough time to post twice a week I exponentially increased how many books I was reading. This has resulted in a backlog of books which show as 'currently reading' on all of my literary social media sites. This has generally meant that the reviews which have been going up on Fridays are following in the order that I read them but I may have read them as much as two months ago. I'm going to change that up with this post because I'm just so excited to talk about this book that it's jumping the queue. Strap in, guys.


The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon was brought to my attention by watching this video by one of my favorite BookTubers, Mercedes. It was the cover that initially grabbed my attention (Honestly, are you even surprised anymore?) but it was the quick blurb which she read that truly won me over. (PS The UK and US covers are vastly different and honestly I prefer the cover from the UK.) Cannon's debut novel is set on a small road in England during the summer of 1976 and the winter of 1967. Two seemingly disparate events from these two time periods seem to be converging during what turns out to be one of the hottest summers on record. The reader follows several narrative threads from the inhabitants of this road but the central character is 10-year old Grace. We see her neighbors, family, and friend (Tilly is a delight) through her eyes while also getting to peek behind the shuttered windows and closed doors of their homes where secrets lurk in every corner. It started with a disappearance of a woman...or was it a baby? Maybe it was a fire that started things. It's sometimes difficult to determine just what started a chain of events, isn't it? The Trouble with Goats and Sheep explores that and much more. I don't want this novel to sound distressingly gloomy or dark because that's not accurate. It's difficult for me to convey just what it was that instantly drew me in and had me savoring it like a delicious treat. I think it's that Cannon was able to move seamlessly between the different characters and two time periods and create a story that was both believable and poignant. The people on the avenue felt real and tangible. Their foibles and fears weren't inconceivable or written with a melodramatic air. These were real people who had made mistakes but were too stubborn to admit them. It's a study of humanity and how two little girls tried to reconcile what they were seeing with what they desperately wanted to believe.  I knew within 30 pages that this was a book that this was going to have high re-readability for me and I daresay for many others as well. 10/10 highly recommend.


The UK cover:

Source: Waterstones


The US cover:

Source: Amazon


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-04-10 22:38
It's all a matter of belonging.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep - Joanna Cannon

I really loved the voice of the author in this book, she had a wonderfully quirky view on life and I highlighted a number of phrases and observations that appealed to me.

The book also rang a memory bell, set in a Britain that I clearly remember from my childhood, during the endless hot summer of 1976.


The characters are all residents of The Avenue, part of an estate somewhere in England. Many have known each other from childhood and grown up together, a few are 'incomers'. They encompass a number of quirks that would be labelled in modern day societies, but at that time, Dyslexia, Asperger's and similar personality or learning disorders, were just accepted as different. The significant question was - how much different, and could you still fit in?


Whilst there as a bit of a who-done-it, running through the narrative, the main theme was the disappearance of Margaret Creasey, who has vanished as the story begins. The residents thought they knew why she'd left and were worried that it might bring up long-buried secrets.

Ten-year-old Grace and her friend Tilly, decide they are going to spend their summer vacation searching The Avenue for God as he would surely know where Mrs Creasey was.


It really took me back, how conversation took place over a cup of tea and a packet of Custard Creams....and Angel Delight! I remember my mother discovering Angel Delight, it replaced Bird's Custard as 'afters' for quite a while!


And I have to include just a few of the lovely quotes that I'd highlighted:

"She has to call several times because his dreams are like cement." (Loc 618)

"I still hadn't learned the power of words. How, once they have left your mouth, they have a breath and life of their own." (Loc 2887)

"My mother looked at him and did loud staring" (Loc 3316).

"My mother cornered her eyes" (Loc 3330)


So, why didn't I give this book the full five stars? Well, I actually had a problem equating some of the things Grace and Tilly say with their age of ten, they seemed older than their years a lot of the time. Plus there is a slight lack of resolution at the end - why did Walter suddenly enter the conversation uninvited and what happened about the secrets that everyone was so scared of revealing?

Still, it's a brilliant read, especially if you were old enough to remember that summer.

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