*Just a gentle note, this review may include spoilers you might want to avoid*
Oh, this book. This book, this book, this book. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, since it was first published. But I never got round to reading it and I thought I’d wait until the paperback was published to read it. But I couldn’t wait any longer so I grabbed a copy of the hardback version and read it in three days. It’s safe to say that I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a very long time. So, what’s it about? This is what the blurb says:
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?
I mean it when I say I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a very long time. It’s one of those books that is a real rare treasure. The entire book is a delight, an utter delight. We start with Florence as she has fallen in her flat and then we go back before the fall happened as we, along with Florence, discover a shocking secret from her past. I did figure out the ‘twist’ very early on in the book but it doesn’t take anything away from it, it adds an extra layer of vulnerability to the book, for me.
For me, this was a gorgeous exploration of people, of characters. The writing is so beautifully crafted that you know these characters, you can see them, bouncing off the page. Not just Florence but the whole array of characters in this book. From Elsie, Jack, Miss Ambrose, Mrs Honeyman, Cheryl, the Uniforms, the man in the shop, Jack’s son, the man in the music shop, Gypsy Rosa, and Handy Simon. These are real people and their voices are distinct from each other. Handy Simon was one of my favourite characters. I really felt for Simon, he was the unsung hero, the unlikely hero, even. I thought the characterisation of all of the characters was just brilliant.
The writing throughout is just gorgeous too. It’s observant, real, authentic, lyrical, brilliant all the way throughout. There are phrases that will make you smile, paragraphs that will make tears wanting to escape, there will be chapters that you won’t be able to stop laughing at, there will be moments where you just smile, in awe. There are a number of gorgeous quotes in the book, but I particularly loved this one:
Because sometimes you need to run away. You need to believe in something without looking for proof. You need to enjoy a thing without finding a need to measure its value. You need to run away from a familiar life, into something quite unfamiliar. Even if you are so old, the only running away you will ever do again is in your mind.
Throughout the book, there are some gorgeous scenes that really make you escape into the world of Florence, Elsie and co. There are some scenes that you read and you are there instantly. On Whitby beach, the sand between your toes, the sea cracking, the wind snipping. These scenes are so beautifully written and descriptive that they would just translate to the screen. I would really love to see this on TV, I think a film would rush the story whereas a TV series would give the story room to breathe.
This is a book about growing old, love, friendship, holding onto the past, but for me, it’s a book about your legacy, what you leave on the world when you leave. It’s also about wanting more, doing more with your life, expectations but realising that you are in the present, so live it. Don’t wish your life away, don’t run away, just live your life to the best that you can.
Just like a piece of batternberg, this book is warm, comforting and a beautiful treat that will make you keep going back for more.
Have you read Three Things About Elsie yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!