Talking About ‘Three Things About Elsie’ with Bibliobeth!

Three Things About Elsie

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep

Synopsis:

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?

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.

CHRISSI: We both read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by the same author. How do you think this book compared?

BETH: I really enjoyed The Trouble With Goats and Sheep but for some reason, it wasn’t a five star read for me like I know it was for so many other readers. I wasn’t expecting to be completely blown away by Three Things About Elsie at all. I knew I would probably enjoy it as I thought with her first novel, Joanna Cannon had a very engaging writing style and wrote fantastic characters but I still wasn’t prepared for how much I would end up enjoying this. It was an emotional. poignant and stellar piece of fiction that had a huge impact on me.

BETH: Without spoilers, how fitting did you think the title of this book was?

CHRISSI: I thought it was a very fitting title to the story. Throughout the story, we know two things about Elsie and there’s something else about her too…which I can’t spoil. I think the title was a good match and there was lots of reference to it within the story which was a lovely touch.

CHRISSI: What feelings did this book evoke for you?

BETH: SO many feelings. In her first book, Joanna Cannon chose to focus on two young girls as protagonists, with Elsie she has gone to the other end of the spectrum and we see the lives of Florence, Elsie, Jack and many others in a retirement home. I loved the relationship between Florence and Elsie in particular but also liked that this novel had a hint of a mystery about it regarding the re-emergence of a character from their past and why it evokes such feelings of fear in Florence as a result. This novel also touches on memory loss and dementia which was quite hard to read about and heart-breaking in points but ultimately, I think the author handled it very sensitively and it was an intensely moving read for me.

BETH: Did Florence’s failing memory change your understanding of events at Cherry Tree? Does it make her a less reliable narrator?

CHRISSI: I do think that Florence’s failing memory did make her a less reliable narrator for sure. I wasn’t sure if she was talking to herself, remembering things wrong or hiding secrets that she wanted to keep locked away. The story really did unravel slowly, with a very mysterious element, it took me a while to understand what was going on.

CHRISSI: Did you feel engaged with the story all the way through?

BETH: I honestly did. I adored the way in which we got little throwbacks to Flo and Elsie’s past as the mystery of the new resident at the retirement home continues to unravel but I think my favourite parts about this novel were the little pearls of wisdom that Joanna Cannon throws in, some of which really spoke to me on a personal level and I even tweeted about, I felt so strongly at the time! For example: “Sometimes you go through an experience in life that slices into the very bones of who you are, and two different versions of yourself will always sit either side of it like bookends.”

BETH: What do you think makes Florence ultimately realise that she HAS lived an extraordinary life, in the end?

CHRISSI: I think when Florence is lying reminiscing about what she does remember of her life, her memories with Elsie make her realise that her life has been quite remarkable. She is forced to think of secrets that she’s kept hidden. It is her interactions with Elsie that makes her think about her life and all of the events that have happened to her.

CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite character? If so, who?

BETH: I loved all the characters to be honest, even the ones who were meant to have a more malevolent side to them! Obviously, I had a soft spot for our leading lady Florence and often wanted to be there having a chat, a cup of tea and some Battenberg cake with her but I also really enjoyed the character of Jack who is so supportive to Flo that it made my heart burst a little bit. Handy Simon is also a fabulous character and I found myself really rooting for him to find happiness all the way through the novel.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure. Personally, I don’t think I gel with this author’s writing style. It’s nothing against Joanna Cannon’s writing. I can see and appreciate that she’s a talented writer. It just doesn’t work for me. I found this book to be a little drawn out and I lost interest in it. Don’t get me wrong, there were some lovely moments within this story and some very quotable moments. I was extremely busy when I was reading it (so may not have invested as much in it as I wanted to) and I enjoy a faster paced story. I feel really bad because I know so many people love this book. However, we can’t love them all and the blogosphere would be very boring if we all agreed.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!

CHRISSI: Yes!

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This Week In Books #126

I am joining in with the lovely Lipsy from Lipsy’s Lost and Found’s feature which highlights our week in books. I shall be sharing what I’m reading now, then and next! I won’t be showcasing my new books as I do that on a Saturday. I’m really excited by this feature as I loved sharing my recent reads. My book reviews published on my blog are often WAY behind what I’m actually reading, so this is a good feature to keep you up to date!

Book images go to Goodreads!

Three Things About Elsie Girl Out of Water Open Your Eyes

NOWThree Things About ElsieJoanna Cannon– I’m currently 3/4 of the way through this book that Beth and I are reading for our Talking About feature. I’m enjoying it so far, although not as much as some others have!

THENGirl Out Of WaterLaura Silverman- This was a decent YA read. It did have some diverse representation within it, which I totally appreciated!

NEXTOpen Your Eyes Paula Daly– This was on my list this week to read next, but I had my current read crop up so Open Your Eyes needed to be put to a side for a bit!

What are you reading this week? Let me know!

Round Up of British Books Challenge 2017

The British Books Challenge is hosted by Michelle at Tales of Yesterday. Find out more about it HERE.

The British Book Challenge was set up to show support for British Authors. By signing up I promised to read at least 12 books by British Authors. I smashed it once again this year by reading 63 books by British Authors.

Here are 2017’s efforts!

  1. The One Memory of Flora Banks– Emily Barr
  2. Paper Butterflies– Lisa Heathfield
  3. We Come Apart– Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
  4. How Hard Can Love Be?– Holly Bourne
  5. Disclaimer– Renee Knight
  6. Margot & Me– Juno Dawson
  7. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep– Joanna Cannon
  8. The Witchfinder’s Sister– Beth Underdown
  9. London Belongs To Us– Sarra Manning
  10. The Cuckoo Sister– Vivian Alcock
  11. The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time– Mark Haddon
  12. The One– John Marrs
  13. Mad Girl– Bryony Gordon
  14. Lie With Me– Sabine Durrant
  15. Pilot Jane and The Runaway Plane– Caroline Baxter
  16. Fish Boy- Chloe Daykin
  17. Awful Auntie– David Walliams
  18. The Last Beginning- Lauren James
  19. Girlhood– Cat Clarke
  20. One Italian Summer- Keris Stainton
  21. Release- Patrick Ness
  22. Unboxed- Non Pratt
  23. Follow Me– Angela Clarke
  24. Watch Me– Angela Clarke
  25. Trust Me– Angela Clarke
  26. Truth Or Dare– Non Pratt
  27. I See You- Clare Mackintosh
  28. Blood Sisters– Jane Corry
  29. The Prime Minister’s Brain- Gillian Cross
  30. The Nearest Faraway Place– Hayley Long
  31. The Graces– Laure Eve
  32. Miss You– Kate Eberlen
  33. Damage– Eve Ainsworth
  34. Indigo Donut– Patrice Lawrence
  35. Gone Without A Trace– Mary Torjussen
  36. Her Husband’s Lover– Julia Crouch
  37. He Said/She Said– Erin Kelly
  38. Cartes Postales from Greece– Victoria Hislop
  39. Fortunately, The Milk– Neil Gaiman
  40. Good Me, Bad Me– Ali Land
  41. The Scarecrow Queen– Melinda Salisbury
  42. Charlotte Says– Alex Bell
  43. Close To Me– Amanda Reynolds
  44. Coraline- Neil Gaiman
  45. The House– Simon Lelic
  46. The Betrayals- Fiona Neill
  47. The Trophy Child– Paula Daly
  48. Saffy’s Angel– Hilary McKay
  49. Behind Closed Doors- B.A Paris
  50. No Virgin– Anne Cassidy
  51. No Shame– Anne Cassidy
  52. Then She Was Gone– Lisa Jewell
  53. The Treatment– C.L Taylor
  54. Letters From The Lighthouse– Emma Carroll
  55. Black Hearts In Battersea– Joan Aiken
  56. The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club- Alex Bell
  57. 13 Minutes– Sarah Pinborough
  58. The Hours Before Dawn– Celia Fremlin
  59. Noah Can’t Even– Simon James Green
  60. Witch Child- Celia Rees
  61. The Friend– Dorothy Koomson
  62. A Quiet Kind Of Thunder– Sara Barnard
  63. Finding Jennifer Jones– Anne Cassidy

Talking About ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ with Bibliobeth!

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: I was already pre-disposed to like this book, I had heard really good things about it from a friend of mine and the title was just too good to resist! I almost couldn’t believe it was a debut novel when I first started reading it, it felt like I was reading a book where the author had been established and writing for years. I was initially confused by some aspects of the story – but in a good way, I just wanted to know what exactly was going on and the author is very good at the “slow reveal,” shall we say?

BETH: Who were your favourite characters in the novel and why?

CHRISSI: I really liked Grace and Tilly because I felt like their friendship was incredibly realistic. I found myself excited to read Grace’s point of view because I really wanted to read about her perspective on the whole situation. I love reading from children’s point of view because they can be so honest, be incredibly wise, yet they can be incredibly naive at the same time.

CHRISSI: The cover of this book is quite simple. Why do you think they went for this choice?

BETH: I actually love how simple the cover is. It’s a lovely shade of blue with just a single goat on the front. No sheep though! 😊 The title is actually described quite early on in the book but I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the two young girls are trying to find God and they have been told by the local vicar that God prefers his people to be a flock of sheep rather than goats. The story is quite simple in the end, coming down to separating these people into the two categories (or can they really be separated?) so I think the cover is perfect for what the novel is.

BETH: What did you think about the relationship between friends Grace and Tilly? Was it typical of a female friendship at that impressionable age?

CHRISSI: I’ve mentioned in the previous answer that I really enjoyed the relationship between Grace and Tilly. I did like reading about them because it was so realistic. I felt like Grace was the more dominant friend and I do feel that friendship at that impressionable age can be like that. I felt like Grace thought she had to watch over Tilly and I loved that protective quality that Grace had. There are moments when Grace doesn’t treat Tilly well and I think that is true of a female friendship at that age. Children can be insensitive towards others and hurt them deeply because they still have a lot to learn.

CHRISSI: What do you think the setting of the heat wave of 1976 adds to the story?

BETH: The heatwave is almost a character in itself, it is mentioned so often and people are obviously suffering because of it. I think people have heard about the heat doing funny things to people’s characters…making them snap, do odd things etc and I think the heat actually has a huge affect on the characters in the story in exactly this way. Perhaps the heat exacerbates the situation and causes people to over-react where they might not normally do so?

BETH: How do you think the mystery of where Mrs Creasy had gone was played out in this novel?

CHRISSI:  The mystery of Mrs Creasy was very intriguing throughout the story. I have to agree that it’s very much a slow reveal and at times, I did start to lose a bit of interest in the story which is why I haven’t rated it higher. I enjoyed reading about the worry of the secrets that Mrs Creasy had taken with her. I felt like that was more important to her neighbours, rather than genuine concern about where she was.

CHRISSI: Many characters in the story have secrets and regrets – how do you judge the actions they have taken? Does it make you consider how we judge people without really knowing them?

BETH: Yes, yes, yes. I don’t think any character really comes out and apologises for their behaviour outright but you can definitely sense the guilt, the regret and a cooling of tempers, especially to the object of most of the characters anger. It felt very much when I was reading it sort of like a mob mentality with each character being “egged on” by what another would say/feel or do. This kind of behaviour becomes very dangerous when multiple people jump on the bandwagon so as to speak, as we can see from the events that occur.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I can’t believe that this book was a debut. It seemed incredibly accomplished! I enjoyed this book.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Stacking The Shelves #157

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

Bought:

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)

I’ve heard great things about this book and it fits in well with my British Book Challenge! I’m looking forward to reading it! 🙂

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

This is the next book in the Talking About… series that I do with my sister, Beth. I’m intrigued. What a title.

George

I have heard so many wonderful things about this book, so decided to pick up a copy for myself.

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Excited about this one! I have heard amazing things.

Have you read any of these books? What have you recently added to your shelves? Let me know!