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.
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.
What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?
Published 27th July 2017 by Cornerstone, Random House (UK)
I’m a HUGE Lisa Jewell fan. She’s the most reviewed author on this site and I’ve loved every single book I’ve read of hers. I started reading her books when I was bought One Hit Wonder for Christmas fifteen years ago, and up until a couple of years ago, had read every single book she’d written. Lisa’s writing seemed to grow with my own tastes and age through my twenties and thirties. However, I missed out on her new direction of writing domestic thrillers, simply because I was so caught up and busy with life and I barely read a thing in that time. It was definitely time to change that, but would Then She Was Gone live up to all my expectations
In short … YES! From the first line, I slipped straight back into Lisa’s wonderfully engaging writing style and was hooked. Then She Was Gone tells the story of fifty something, Laurel. Ten years ago Laurel’s daughter went out to the library and never returned. Now, Laurel is coming to terms with the knowledge she won’t ever see Ellie again, that it’s time for her to move on and heal the rifts in her family following the fall out of the devastating loss of her child. When she meets Floyd, she thinks it’s time to put herself first and begin enjoying life again. But when Floyd introduces her to his nine year old daughter, Poppy, there’s something eerily familiar about her.
I love, love, LOVE Lisa Jewell’s fantastically accurate and vivid characterisation. It’s a skill I think sets her writing apart and is no less apparent in Then She Was Gone. I have no idea how she does it, but when I’m reading, her characters become so absolutely real and solid to me. I hear them distinctly and clearly- Noelle’s up and down at times naive/ at times menacing voice, Poppy’s precocious, disconcertingly arrogant personality with hints of vulnerability. It’s like audio in written form! And it’s not just the voices, Jewell manages to add nuance to every movement, look and reaction, meaning her character’s are animated and incredibly believable. The result is that shifts in tension and emotions are picked up effortlessly by the reader and I became fully involved in this story.
The plot is certainly intriguing and different! I had no idea how twisted it was actually going to be- it’s shockingly sinister and disturbing. I did guess some of the twists fairly early on, but it’s the journey the characters themselves take which make this book so unputdownable. It’s layered and complex, so you become conflicted and switch from sympathy to deep dislike while being completely horrified as the past unfurls in alternating chapters.
I read Then She Was Gone in one greedy, obsessive gulp. I couldn’t go to bed until I’d read every last word, and believe me I’m not one to easily keep awake (usually falling asleep with my glasses on and a book over my face despite my best efforts!) Lisa Jewell continues to be my very favourite of authors – I know I can rely on her every time and there’s just something so intensely personal about her writing that I absolutely love. I can’t wait to catch up on the books I’ve missed out on, I Found You and The Girls, and continue to recommend Lisa’s books to all.
(I read an advance e-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)