Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

Three Things About Elsie

by Joanna Cannon

Book Club Recommendations Books of the Month Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel eBooks of the Month Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories Sharing Diverse Voices

LoveReading View on Three Things About Elsie

January 2018 Book of the Month

Abundant in moving insights into identity and memory, this charming slice of humanity is as elegantly formed and sweetly satisfying as the Battenberg cake depicted on its cover.

Eighty-four-year-old Florence (Flo to her best friend Elsie) has fallen in her flat and, as she awaits help, wondering whether she’s “reached the end of her story”, her musings reveal a long-buried secret. “Everyone’s life has a secret, something they never talk about,” she remarks. “It’s what you do with your secret that really matters”, and what Elsie does with hers is determined by the unlikely reappearance of a man from her and Elsie’s past.

Florence’s reflections on she how hasn’t done enough with her life, how life takes you down paths you hadn’t intended to wander, are wholly heartrending. She wanted to be a scientist, to devise a world-changing invention, but instead she and Elsie ended up in a factory for the entirety of their working lives. While there’s loss and sadness as the twisting tale unfolds, this is also a tonic for the soul - upliftingly wistful, poignantly funny, and the relationship between Flo and Elsie is wonderful. At once a bittersweet ode to the elderly and the passing of time, and a compelling mystery, this proves that sometimes it’s entirely appropriate to judge a book by its cover. I adored it.  

Joanne Owen

Three Things About Elsie Synopsis

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 a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:

1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.

2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.

3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

Win a Brilliant Orenda Book Bundle!

Win a Brilliant Orenda Book Bundle!

Closing date: 30/06/2021

We're teaming up once again with Orenda to offer another brilliant book giveaway! This book bundle will include some of their latest releases from April to June. A fantastic opportunity to stock your bookshelves. The titles up for grabs are: The Source be Sarah Sultoon - Published 15th April Facets of Death by Michael Stanley - Published 29th April The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl - Published 13th May This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech - Published 10th June Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen - Published 10th June One Last Time by Helga Flatland - Published 24th June This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 30th June 2021. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

Enter Now

Three Things About Elsie Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

Secrets, friendship and love #ThreeThings Full review

Nikki Whitmore

Joanna's style of writing is original and poetic. I have sat and read it from cover to cover, only stopped to sleep and eat! A wonderful book, one I am happy to recommend anyone to read. Full review

Marjorie Lacy

This is a sad book - not "cry-your-heart-out-and-be-done-with-it" sad, but a sadness that is more subtle, small tragedies that hide inside bigger ones, but that are ultimately more difficult to bear. Full review

Sabine Little

Quite simply, this is up there with the very best of books I have ever read. It’s fun, engenders melancholy, thought provoking and totally unputdownable. Full review

Phylippa Smithson

Deeply poignant and always honest, this delightfully bittersweet novel is life affirming and uplifting. Full review

Emily Wright

A story that will touch your heart. Full of characters who seem so real you could just imagine them sitting next to you. Full review

Nicola Lowes

I really enjoyed this book and the characters and all the questions and dilemmas it threw up. Read and enjoy! Full review

Carol Attridge

Remarkable story told with great writing and emotion. Getting old and being young at the same time. A beautiful story. Full review

Jane Brown

An interestingly written mystery about love, loss, forgiveness and growing old that is great to read during the special reflective time in the New Year. Full review

Charlotte Walker

If you have to read only one book in 2018, make it this one. Full review

Sarah Harper

When a secret from the past resurfaces, Florence’s friends help her unlock the mystery in this gentle, moving novel about ageing, friendship, memory, identity... and the ripples our lives make. Full review

Kathy Eastman

This book is still told with the same warmth and charm as the debut, and shows the power, strength and humanity of what binds friends together over a lifetime, through the bad and good times. Full review

Katie Hoare

The author writes in a straightforward, unpretentious style, with great insight and sensitivity, not only for those experiencing old age and loss of memory but for everyone caught up in life-changing events they would rather forget. Full review

Sue Broom

A delightful jigsaw where you need to pay attention to all the details to see the whole. Full review

Cathy Peterson

There was many times I had a lump in my throat reading this beautiful story , it’s a must read! Full review

Edel Waugh

Three Things About Elsie Press Reviews

Praise for The Trouble with Goats and Sheep:

`A splendid debut ...Forensic period detail and pithy exchanges between characters give the novel the feel of a Seventies sitcom ...a wonderful achievement'  Daily Mail

`Cannon specialises, beautifully, in making concrete the abstract ... a superior debut' Sunday Times

`Vibrant and funny...imagine Donna Tartt's The Secret History, set in 1970s English suburbia' Guardian

`Successfully capturing the claustrophobia of suburban life... Cannon paints a sympathetic and nuanced portrait of society's misfits'   The Independent

`Beautifully written'  Daily Express

`Sweet, nostalgic and funny' Sun on Sunday

`Wry, acutely observant and brilliantly claustrophobic'  Mail on Sunday

`Fresh and vivid, this intriguing debut is a perceptive coming-of-age tale'  Sunday Express

`A unique and unforgettable debut'  Wall Street Journal

`A very special book that makes us think about ourselves and others more deeply ... a terrific pageturner'  Nathan Filerbr

`An utter delight. Perceptive, funny, dark, moving. And so beautifully written. I loved it'
Sarah Winmanr  

`A quirky, moving and beautifully written tale of suburban life in 1970s Britain, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a delight from start to finish'  Paula Hawkins

If you loved this, you might like these...

The Motion of the Body Through Space
Bitterhall A Novel
Sharks in the Time of Saviours
Unsettled Ground

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780008196912
Publication date: 11/01/2018
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008196912
Publication date: 11th January 2018
Author: Joanna Cannon
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories, Diverse Voices,
Collections: 40+ Novels That Feature Friendship,

About Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is her first novel.   Below is a Q&A with this author Borough Press’ Charlotte Cray interviews debut author Joanna Cannon about her beloved characters in The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and what it is about writing that sparks her mind and her heart.1.    Your child narrator Grace is distinct and charming, and in her best friend Tilly ...

More About Joanna Cannon

More Books By Joanna Cannon

Cover for Breaking & Mending by Joanna Cannon
Cover for Breaking & Mending by Joanna Cannon
Cover for Breaking & Mending by Joanna Cannon
View All Books By Joanna Cannon

Share this book