Friday, July 19, 2019

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Blurb: Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she thinks about her best friend, Elsie, and wonders if a terrible secret from their past is about to come to light. If the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

What an extraordinarily insightful, compassionate book.

With Three Thing About Elsie, author Joanna Cannon presents her characters and their stories with caring and kindness, as well as an eye for noticing those who often seem invisible. In this case, that means the elderly, and the book takes a gentle look at the way lives change and worlds sometimes shrink when the years ahead are fewer than those behind.

This book focuses on unraveling a new mystery by struggling to remember the past, while at the same time being an exploration of growing old while wrestling with unreliable memories and clinging to love and friendship. Through Florence, the main character who holds close three things about her friend, Elsie, we see how life changes in later years as she grapples with a fading memory and adjusting to life at a home for the elderly.

Lives can disappear so quickly sometimes once they end – we all hope to be remembered, to leave some small mark on the world, but aren't sure we will. Florence thinks about this question a lot, wondering: "When I look back, I have led quite an ordinary life. I sometimes wonder what the point of me was."

By the end of the book, hopefully you'll see what the point of her was, what the point of everyone is. An ordinary life often leaves more of an extraordinary mark on the world than we realize. Surely it's true that "No matter how long or how short a time you are here, the world is ever so slightly different because you existed."

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