I have been a fan of Lisa Jewell’s writing for many, many years and through those years her writing has gone from light-hearted rom-coms via a very good historical fiction book through the shades of grey to Then She Was Gone which is very dark indeed.
Laurel Mack’s daughter Ellie was on her way to the library ten years ago when she went missing. The police believed she’d run away, but there were no sightings and Laurel and her husband Paul disintegrated under the weight of not knowing what had happened to their precious youngest daughter, a girl who was just fifteen and about to sit her GCSE’s. With Ellie predicted high grades and no known problems at home she is remembered forever as a pretty teen by her parents and her older siblings Hanna and Jake, and if truth be told, she was her mother’s favourite.
What had Laurel’s life been like, ten years ago, when she’d had three children and not two? Had she woken up every morning suffused with existential joy? No, she had not. Laurel had always been a glass-half-empty type of person. She could find much to complain about in even the most pleasant of scenarios and could condense the joy of good news into a short-lived moment, quickly curtailed by some new bothersome concern…
…That was how she’d once viewed her perfect life: as a series of bad smells and unfulfilled duties, petty worries and late bills.
And then one morning, her girl, her golden girl, her lastborn, her baby, her soulmate, her pride and her joy, had left the house and not come back.
So ten years down the line when Laurel meets a friendly single father in the local café she has got used to her own company, unlike Paul who has a new wife Bonny, Laurel has not been interested in meeting someone new. And then Laurel’s introduced to Paul’s daughter Poppy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ellie.
This is a book where the author gives enough pointers for what you assume is the answer to the main mystery fairly early on in the book and in doing so lets the characters walk off the pages and into your life where you will be hard pushed to forget them easily. But beware, not everything is quite as it seems and this novel turns out to be simultaneously a fantastic tale and yet on the other one that is entirely believable probably because the characters we meet are ones that are so realistic.
The narration is mainly done by Laurel, a woman who you can’t but help to sympathise with for her loss but also we here from Ellie, Lloyd and Noelle a strange but still realistic woman who has links to both families all of which reveal to us aspects of the tale that Laurel is blind to. The change in narrator and time periods are expertly handled and this is a psychological thriller which brilliantly hinges on the characters rather than high-octane action, making for a satisfying read because despite changes genres Lisa Jewell still writes with a sharp eye for details and emotions that we all experience while we are hopefully living slightly less dramatic lives than the characters in this book.
I highly recommend Then You Were Gone the perfect book to slip into the suitcase for a holiday read; I will now I sit and wait for Lisa Jewell to write her next book.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Then She Was Gone before publication today, 27 July 2017.
First Published UK: 27 July 2017
No of Pages: 432
Genre: Psychological Thriller
My favourite Lisa Jewell books:
click on the covers to read my reviews
Lisa Jewell Novels
• I Found You (2016)
• The Girls (2015)
• The Third Wife (2014)
• The House We Grew Up In (2013)
• Before I Met You (2012)
• The Making Of Us (2011)
• After The Party (2010)
• The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005)
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)
16 thoughts on “Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell”
I really want to read this now after your review!! 😊
It is a great read!! 🙂
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I must pick up a copy then-no idea why I haven’t already as I’ve always loved her books! 😊
Great review!! I’m now itching to get my hands on this book! I’d also love it if you could check out my blog as well, I write book reviews too!
Loved your review!!
I love her books too and this one arrived the other day, but I’m not sure I want to dive into it yet as I love the anticipation of an unopened book. 😀
This sounds like a compelling story, Cleo. I always like it when the characters feel so real that you almost believe they could walk right off the page. Frightening prospect, too, at the heart of the story. Glad you enjoyed it so well.
Great review, Cleo. Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite writers but I just didn’t manage to get to this one in time for publication although it’s waiting patiently for me. I have a soft spot for Thirtynothing and always say it’s my favourite of her books.
I Found You was an engaging read.
Great review. I love Lisa Jewell’s books. She’s an excellent writer. This one will be going on holiday with me!
I love this author, and often her books are not available in the US at the time that I’m reading reviews like yours…and wanting the book! But I went to the Amazon page and ordered a copy from 3rd party sellers…which works for me. Except for the waiting! But it would be a longer wait to get it directly from Amazon. Thanks for sharing!
I feel like the odd one out since I’ve never read one of her books! Interesting that she’s changed genres over the years – those books covers do all look like lighter romantic-style reads.
I’ve never actually read any Lisa Jewell. Would you say this is the best one to pick up first or would you recommend another?