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  • Barbara Copperthwaite


Three Things About Elsie, by Joanna Cannon. Review by Barbara Copperthwaite

‘Transports you inside the characters, making you feel exactly what they are feeling’


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 little bit more explaining.

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


Joanna Cannon is such a unique author. I was a huge fan of The Trouble With Goats And Sheep, her debut, which was told largely from the point of view of children. This time, the author spins her magic around a senior citizen.

On the surface of it, this book may seem almost like a cosy crime, but it is so much more than that. In its own humorous and touching way it is a study of humanity.

The author’s eloquence is unusual, original, and so perfect for the moment she is attempting to capture. She transports – and by that I don’t simply means the feeling that you are in the story or at the location where it takes place (in themselves no small feat). Joanna Cannon transports you inside the characters, making you feel exactly what they are feeling.

And what characters! Every single person - yes, you truly feel as though they are a person and not a character - is brought to life, complete with idiosyncrasies. There were countless times I laughed at this book. Almost as often, I wiped away tears. Now that I’ve finished, I know they will remain with me for some time.

I recommend Three Things About Elsie wholeheartedly. This book is a joy to read. Just don’t forget to have your hankies nearby as well as your bookmark.

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