Saturday, January 25, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon is a contemporary mystery set in a home for the elderly in England. The protagonist, Florence Claybourne, is eighty-four years old and has dementia. She is coping, helped along by two other residents: a retired general named Jack and her lifelong best friend, Elsie. And then a new resident enters the home, Gerald Price. Florence recognizes him as Ronnie Butler. But sixty years ago, Ronnie Butler drowned.

The story unfolds in bits and spurts as Florence struggles with memories she can’t quite recall and perhaps doesn’t truly want to recall. But Ronnie Butler is a dangerous man and, even after all these years, he’s out to get Florence. Jack and Elsie are on her side, but no one else believes her.

The Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly is staffed by kindly, well-meaning people who wanted more out of life. Each has an interesting back story, though most are only lightly touched upon.

The most intricate life story belongs to Florence. As the final pieces fall into place, it becomes clear how interconnected all those lives are even if they are unaware of the connections.

It is a well-plotted story with warm characters. The ending is poignant and the mystery solved satisfactorily. The book reminded me strongly of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, which I also enjoyed.