Three Things About Elsie // Joanna Cannon

Thank you to Scribner, Simon and Schuster, and Netgalley for an early review copy of Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, which was published August 7, 2018.  All thoughts are my own.


From the publisher:

“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 bit more explaining.”

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 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?


When Joanna Cannon’s Three Things About Elsie was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, I read review after review but never gathered any intention of reading it.  Then, I decided to request it from Scribner on a complete whim because I have no self control, at least when it comes to books.  The result of my momentary weakness was a quirky, heartwarming story about growing old, being young, and the tough questions we must ask ourselves as we age.

Three Things About Elsie has a little bit of everything.  There’s a little romance, a little mystery, and a little suspense, but at its center is the sweet friendship between Florence, the main character, and Elsie, her childhood best friend.  The pair have a special relationship; they know each other better than anyone else, and I imagined them as those cute little old ladies I see while I’m out grocery shopping.  They were hysterical together, and I enjoyed reading about the unique bond they shared with one another.

Beyond Florence’s relationship with Elsie is her role as an unreliable narrator.  I have a growing admiration towards unreliable narration, so I fell in love with that aspect of Three Things About Elsie. While reading about Florence’s mishaps, I wondered if someone was actually setting her up for misfortune or if she was just losing her marbles. I believe Cannon intended for her audience to question Flo’s sanity, just like she intended for it to be a page-turning mystery.

Though I found a lot to admire with the characters of Three Things About Elsie, I found it too predictable when it came to plot, and unfortunately that ruined it for me.  The “surprise” ending was all too obvious, and something I’d assumed from the start.  I’m sure it would’ve been less predictable if I didn’t read so much, but it made me lose interest around the halfway point.  I enjoyed the quirky characters and the unreliable narration, but the awkward writing style and predictability made this one a miss for me.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Published by

Hannah and Her Books

Book person.

9 thoughts on “Three Things About Elsie // Joanna Cannon”

  1. Great review! This is one of the only Women’s Prize longlisters I didn’t get to, and I’ve heard such mixed things I could never really decide if I wanted to read it or not… the one thing I kept hearing was that it was overly saccharine which doesn’t really appeal to me, but the friendship and mystery elements sound intriguing! But I’ll probably pass, slogging through hundreds of pages for a predictable ending is no fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The mystery was interesting at first and then it just got to be too monotonous for me, but I adored the cute friendship between Flo and Elsie. After reading it, I can see why it might’ve been appealing enough to be on the WP longlist, but there were definitely some much stronger choices that could’ve easily replaced it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of those books where the mixed reviews stopped me from picking it up. Yours made me fairly certain that it was the correct choice. The predictable ending sounds like something that would annoy me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your review, and I can really see why people liked it a lot. Of course it might not seem like the perfect book, but the friendship aspect of this book is definitely what pulls me to pick it up. Hope I get to read it soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The friendship really was the sweetest! and there aren’t too many books out there with elderly characters (or at least ones that I’m familiar with), so THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE was refreshing in that regard. I hope you like it! I’d love to hear what you think! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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