I’d heard so much about Three Things About Elsie hat getting to a panel session with her was a must and she was brilliantly paired with Jess Kidd, author of The Hoarder.
For both authors, these are their second books and both books share common themes of ageing, and memory loss, both use humour and both are about secrets.
In Joanna’s Three Things About Elsie, 84-year old Florence has fallen and is waiting for help. Evidently in a rapidly developing stage of increasing dementia, her memory has suffered and she is reliant on the ever-present Elsie as she tries to piece together an event from her past. In the present, we witness the moral and physical struggles experienced by her concerned carers at the Rest Home and the relationships between them.
Joanna says she wanted to explore how we treat people as we get older; why older people are somehow seen as a package and not a person and why as a society we are so afraid of old age.
Jess’s The Hoarder features Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic who is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her.
Jess got interested in the relationship between care workers and their clients when she was a support worker and The Hoarder is told from the caregivers perspective. She stresses the need to recognise that in that relationship, caregivers will also bring their own baggage.
She researched the hoarding compulsion and found that it is linked to loss and grief. Joanna is book also deals with loss, with dementia and autism. She feels really strongly about her duty of care in making sure that real people do it bleed into her fictional world. She is interested in loss of power and pursuing uncomfortable themes. Intergenerational friendships, threatened loss of independence of home and ro some degree also of self, are all big themes to explore.
Jess’s book looks at atonement, guilt and shame. Maud has a posse of saints who follow her around but are really not very helpful but are used by Jess as a device to explore the past. All of her. Hard ters are trapped in some way and he uses humour as a device to propel things forward.
Joanna Cannon started writing by creating a blog when she was a junior doctor, as a way of relieving her stress and get her through the tough times. She says it’s full of doom and gloom.
Her first book, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, was written in her car, in the hospital car park during lunch breaks!
Both women were fascinating and now I have a whole new list of books I have to read.
If you are interested, there is a free e-book created by Joanna titled Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self. With contributions from authors, performers, doctors, journalist and others, this is an often hilarious, moving and inspiring collection of wisdom to offer solace and entertainment to people at any milestone of their lives.