Book Review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Release Date: 27th July 2017
Publisher: Century
Pages: 432
Genre:Crime, thriller,psychological thriller
ISBN: 978-1780896410
Buy: Hardback  |  Kindle

She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl.
She had her whole life ahead of her. 
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.
But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.
Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.
Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.
What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

The loss of a child is something that no parent ever recovers from. Laurel Mack knows this only too well after the disappearance of her 15 year old daughter, Ellie, 10 years ago.
When Ellie went on a trip to her local library do to some revision for her GCSE’s all those years ago she was never seen or heard from again.
Ellie’s disappearance affected the whole of the Mack family, causing the breakdown of her parents’ marriage and completely changing the dynamics of the relationship between Laurel and her two other children.
Laurel goes on to live a solitary life, with Ellie’s disappearance always at the forefront of her mind. But then she has a chance meeting with a mysterious man called Floyd. The pair gradually get to know one another and before she knows it Laurel finds herself falling for Floyd’s apparent charms.
However things take a slightly more sinister turn when Laurel is introduced to Floyd’s daughter, Poppy. Despite her unusual way of dressing and her sophisticated vocabulary for a ten year old there’s something else that unsettles Laurel…the fact that Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie. Is this purely a coincidence or is there more to Floyd and his daughter than meets the eye?

I’ve always been a fan of Lisa Jewell. Her books have always been a go-to for me because they ticked so many boxes; they were chick-lit but with real depth and they always had a compelling story at their heart. However, her novels have slowly been travelling in a different direction over the past year or two, taking on a slightly darker undertone.
With Then She Was Gone Lisa has finally fully smashed into the psychological thriller genre and BOY OH BOY has she into smashed it.
This novel left me breathless, uneasy and in a red-mist of desperation to find out exactly what was going to happen.
I love all of Lisa’s books, new and old, but the way she had made the transition into writing thrillers has been seamless and she has lost none of her brilliance along the way.  I’m a massive fan of psychological thrillers, but I’ll be the first to admit that since the days of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, the genre is pretty much everywhere. There are just SO many amazing-sounding thrillers out there at the moment, but the question is – are they any good? In the case of Then She Was Gone…Yes. YES, YES, YES, YES! A bazillion yeses, in fact.  If you only read one thriller this summer then make sure it's this one.

I’ve already edited this review multiple times because I realised that I was giving away MASSIVE spoilers (I can’t help it! I just want to talk about this book so badly.)
The novel is told from four different viewpoints, obviously we get to hear from Laurel and Ellie, but I won’t reveal too much about the other narrators in fear of giving something away. Needless to say the format in which the story is written is really effective and helps the reader to gradually piece together the puzzle and reach their own conclusion as to what happened.
The way in which the story comes together is really clever, switching from past to present day as the narrator changes. There were points when I thought I could sense what was going to happen, but the story nearly always took on another unexpected twist and I questioned all that I thought I knew. I have read thrillers in the past where the ever-changing tense gets confusing and tricky to keep up with, but I had no such problems with Then She Was Gone. The story flows incredibly well and is cleverly written so as not to give too much away.
Lisa Jewell has an amazing talent for building up suspense and she did a fantastic job of keeping me on my toes.

Lisa is also very clever with the creation of her characters and they all felt very real to me. Noelle was one who absolutely fascinated me and I was intrigued to find out more about her. She scared me and I was never quite sure what to make of her. Through the finer details Lisa uses to describe her I had built up a pretty accurate picture of her in my mind (I think it was the grease that did it…Ick) I also had a clear image of Ellie in my mind. I grew to like her immediately and the events that followed shocked and upset me much more than I was expecting, which is credit to Lisa’s wonderful storytelling.

All I can day is that I DESPERATELY hope that Lisa writes more novels in this genre because she has pulled off the move into psychological thrillers so well. The thing I loved most about this novel is how it is not written purely to shock, unsettle and intrigue (although it does all of those things.) It’s also a novel with family at its heart; whether that is exploring the dynamics of a broken family or examining the secrets that families can hold. It’s a story full of emotion, depth and is frighteningly gripping.


A huge thank you to publishers Century for the opportunity to review Then She Was Gone. 

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Holly, for Then She was Gone. Thanks for the heads-up.