Three Things About Elsie

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Three Things About Elsie audio book cover

Joanna Cannon 2018

Thank heaven for Elsie, Florence Claybourne’s lifelong friend. What would Florence have done without her all these years? What would Florence do without her now, faced with the sinister presence of Gabriel Price? Thank heaven for Elsie.

Mr. Price has just moved into Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly, where Florence and Elsie live, and he is identical to their mortal enemy, a man who died sixty years ago – even the scar at the corner of his mouth is a replica of the scar borne by the despicable Ronnie Butler at the time of his death.

Is Gabriel Price really Ronnie Butler? Is he gaslighting Florence by planting contraband in her flat and accusing her of spying on him, or is Florence showing signs of dementia? Is she spying on Mr. Price and then forgetting that she’s doing it?

More to the point: will Florence ever get rescued from the floor of her flat, from where she tells her story after having fallen?

And what’s the third thing about Elsie?

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Paula Wilcox; she chose to use an accent that was challenging to listen to, with its sing-song quality and rapid-fire delivery. Although I am rating this well-crafted story at four stars, I might have enjoyed the experience more if I’d read the book; as I listened to the closing paragraphs I suspected I had possibly missed some of the subtler nuances of the story.

I expected a mystery – and there is a mystery component. By the time I finished the book, though, I recognized that Three Things About Elsie is about the nature of friendship, memory and self-preservation. At the time of this review, the audiobook is free for Scribd subscribers.

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