Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
I absolutely LOVED Cannon's novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. It was one of my favorite reads last year. So, when I heard about her new book, Three Things About Elsie, I knew I had to buy a copy ASAP. Unfortunately, the book doesn't come out in the US until August - ack! Luckily, I was able to purchase it through Book Depository - hurrah! I started it the other day and couldn't put it down. And now that its over, I miss the characters so much.
Here are three things about this book:
1. This is the story of Florence, an elderly woman residing at Cherry Tree - a home for the elderly. She's fallen and is waiting for someone to find her. As she waits on the floor, she begins to wonder about a secret from her past and whether or not it will come to light. She is also curious about the new resident, Gabriel Price - he looks exactly like a man she once knew, except that man drowned. Also, her best friend Elsie isn't there to help her. Where is she? She's always around Florence chatting with her about anything and everything. The longer Florence lies on the floor, the more we learn about life at Cherry Tree and that huge secret she's kept locked away.
2. This book. Oh. My. God. I absolutely LOVED it!! Once I started, I just could not stop reading. I found myself swept away by Florence's story. I loved getting to know her and her friends. I loved learning about her life before Cherry Tree and at Cherry Tree. I loved the way the story weaved back and forth from present time to a few weeks back in time - showing us what led to Florence's fall. I also really enjoyed the way Cannon connected the characters, even the peripheral ones. She wrote this story in such a clear and detailed manner, that it was so easy to imagine myself wandering around at Cherry Tree and listening in on the residents' conversations or breathing in the sea air during their trip to the seaside. I found myself captivated and enjoying every second I spent with Florence, Jack, and Elsie.
3. There were some predictable moments in the book, but truthfully it didn't bother me. I was too busy learning about life at a home for the elderly. The way the residents were treated, listened to, ignored, placated, etc.. The staff's attitude toward the elderly residents they saw day in and day out - the ways in which they watched them, kept track of them, put them on probation, threatened them with removal to a different residence for the elderly (the place that no one wants to go to - Greenbank), etc.. And the residents themselves - watching the telly, sitting in the Japanese garden, playing Scrabble, attending bingo games (basically, keeping busy any which way possible). Reading about how when one of them passes away, their belongings are just thrown away and its like they were never even there. Florence often wonders if anyone will miss her, will even notice she's gone. She wonders if she should have married, had children, and lived a different life from the one she led. She worries that her life has been meaningless. Reading about her concerns made me think about my own life and my own family and how short it all really is, so we need to enjoy it and embrace it as much as we can. I will admit that I did cry whilst reading this book - specifically when a favorite character of mine passed away. I just couldn't help but feel sadness when they were gone. Of course, the book made me feel all the feels - it was just that good of a book. I also can't stop thinking about the residents and staff at Cherry Tree - I wonder how they are and if they've made the changes that they were considering making. I guess I'm just missing the story and wishing I were still reading it. I loved this book and look forward to re-reading it again and again.
And now, I'm off to finish The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. Happy Reading!!