Then She Was Gone is the fifteenth novel by Lisa Jewell, and is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Laurel Mack has never really recovered from the disappearance of her 15 year old daughter Ellie, which happened over ten years ago. Since then, with her family having fractured under the unimaginable stress of this terrible event, Laurel has (amicably) divorced her husband [Paul], though relations with her other two (now adult) children [Hanna & Jake] are strained. They have moved on, trying to get their lives together, but Laurel cannot give up the spark of hope that she will find Ellie alive.
SPOILER ALERT 1:
Then Ellie’s remains are found.
Laurel then tries to move on, eventually meeting then dating the staying over with a guy called Floyd Dunn.
So that’s going well until…
SPOILER ALERT 2:
She meets his nine-year-old daughter Poppy. Cue striking resemblance to Ellie. All the old haunting unanswered questions flood back – Where did she go, was she a runaway, or kidnapped? And new questions – why does Laurel feel there is a connection with Poppy & Ellie?
Then She Was Gone now begins to pick up pace for, even though you as a reader know what happened, you are drawn to find out HOW it happened, to connect the dots, to put together the various pieces.
Jewell has created a Psychological thriller story that hooks you very early on, with an intriguing and absorbing plot that is strengthened by coming from four different viewpoints, mainly from Laurel and Ellie. Jewell’s characters in the main are well-written, people that you could empathise and maybe connect with, with flesh on the bones as it were, but one main character could in my opinion have done with some more background context, to explain how they got to their particular viewpoint of life.
There are some good plot twists and, while some may find it predictable overall, I enjoyed the fast pace and compelling plot, with the discovery and tearing apart of hidden agendas that draws you in and keeps you reading until the wee small hours. It can be a little scary, emotional, and definitely chilling. You may find yourself driving your child to the library from now on! I enjoyed the psychological insights peppered throughout the book, the tensions of the familial relationships, the fragility of the healing process, and the overall level of sinister darkness.