Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon

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Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon

Post by Graham on Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:24 am

My favourite books are the ones that underline our common humanity and that have compassion for our weaknesses. Cannon’s is one of the finest. In structure and plot it is reminiscent of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. Perhaps they herald a new genre. Let’s call it Dementia Noir.

Elsie is Florence Claybourne’s best friend and helps her endure the indignities of the Cherry Tree retirement home. A new arrival calling himself Gabriel Price awakens memories of terrible events from their early twenties and Price may now be hunting down the last witnesses. Florence narrates those far off days and the affronts of her current life as Price smirks and lurks around her. She, Elsie and Jack, their walking-stick assisted comrade in arms, desperately manoeuvre to confound his evil intentions. Other chapters focus on Ms. Anthea Ambrose, Cherry Tree manager wistfully remembering opportunities missed and Handy Simon who wouldn’t recognise an opportunity if it walked up and kissed him.

The joy of the book is also in the language. Every sentence is alive and inventive. Though heart-wringingly sad it is also laugh-out-loud funny in places. I mean that literally. (If lol every appears in a dictionary the definition should be: desperate call for attention by a writer of something banal and unfunny.) I wanted to include some examples of her flair for metaphor, but they were all so embedded in context they would flounder here like fish out of water. There, like that but much better.

Cannon is my new must-read author.

Graham
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