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