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?
Having really enjoyed Joanna Cannon’s first novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, I was never in doubt that I would enjoy this one too. It’s like Joanna’s characters, Tilly and Grace from Goats and Sheep, grew old and found themselves wrapped up in a new mystery!
With Florence’s encroaching dementia she really is pitched as the most unreliable narrator…can us readers believe her recollections? The book very much is about what it is to grow old and be doubted and the author handles these issues with such sensitivity and a necessary amount of humour.
I had an idea of what was happening but not to the extent that was revealed. Without trying to give too much away, there’s a well-known Bruce Willis movie that this very much reminded me of. I like that the clues are drip-fed and we have to go back and forth in time to piece events together.
I like Joanna’s style of writing; short, punchy sentences which helped me read quicker and sustain my interest.
One of my favourite quotes (because it often happens to me):
“We’d only been there ten minutes and my mind started to wander. It can’t help itself. It very often goes for a walk without me, and before I’ve realised what’s going on, it’s miles away.”
The ending made my heart ache and gave me all the feels. It filled me with delight, compassion and empathy for Flo and Elsie and will most definitely tug on your heart strings. If you enjoyed Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing then this is for you!
Small print for info
No of pages: 464
Publisher: Borough Press
p.s after meeting Joanna for a second time at Booka Book Shop in Oswestry, we were given some Fortnum & Mason recipe cards for a Battenburg cake. Now, I had a go at the recipe, followed it to a T and it was a flippin’ disaster! The ‘pink’ sponge was just hideous and rubbery! I do want to have another go at a Battenburg but definitely not this recipe (it wasn’t even finished properly). If anyone has any top tips for baking a Battenburg, please do share 😉