Lisa Jewell is a bug author among the online bookish community and Then She Was Gone is considered one of her bigger stories so I felt it was a must for me to pick it up. I’m impressed and very ready to tell you why.
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Then She Was Gone is a story by Lisa Jewell, arguably her first big hit, that features the story around a mother whose daughter goes missing and then the book covers the story of her journey ten years later to find out what really happened when her life is turned upside down by a man.
Plot – 4.5/5
Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone focuses on the story of Laurel and the loss of her daughter Ellie ten years ago. The story starts off when Ellie is with Laurel and then the book jumps around a couple of different perspectives from those involved. I can’t say too much more without spoiling it and giving away who is involved other than her mother.
The first thing I must say, and I think anyone who has read it will agree with me, you get about halfway and think: “oh ok, what else can happen now?” However, the rest of the book, I’d argue, is the best bit. Essentially we find out who the killer is (that’s not a spoiler) and then the second half of the book explains from their point of view the events that unfolded. It’s a fantastic and really unique take that delves you brilliantly into the psyche of the killer and their modus operandi.
What ensued then was actually a really gripping book, the second half of which, I found myself far more hooked into than the first – which I didn’t think I would. Lisa Jewell does a brilliant job of despite telling you the killer early, giving you much more to hold out for as more is slowly revealed. I’m going to stop typing now as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone!
Characters – 4/5
Having the main characters tell the story first-person in Then She Was Gone gives us an insight into their thought processes and reasons for their actions – it really allows you to build the personalities and opinions of the characters. Though I will admit, I didn’t find any of them particularly loveable. The main character, Laurel, whose perspective we read from the most throughout the book has gone through a divorce, she’s distant with her remaining children and she’s looking for love. Yet, at no point did I feel sorry for her. There are certain aspects to making you love characters and unfortunately, unfortunately I didn’t find any of these in these characters.
Reading from the point-of-view of the villain is very interesting – especially finding out more about the way they think and why they did what they did. I’m not going to say it justifies what they did, but it gives a certain human element to an inhumane act. The other characters in the book have just enough depth to make them believable. I’d say my favourite character is that of a young girl called Poppy whose clearly on the spectrum and whose wonderful attitude to life is a breath of fresh air in what is otherwise a rather tense and negative look on life.
Then She Was Gone summary – 4/5
Then She Was Gone surprised me – not in that I wasn’t expecting to like it but in WHEN in the book I started liking it. As I mentioned earlier, there was a moment where I felt like I could have stopped listening but then it really picked up and I was absolutely hooked to the very last page and become fully invested in finding out as much as possible about these characters and finding out the truth behind everything.
I’d highly recommend Then She Was Gone to anybody who loves a mystery, there are certainly some aspects you may not expect. I’d also suggest this to those who like a Thriller as there are some tense and quite disturbing moments in this novel.