“An acutely observed family drama with bone-chilling suspense.” —People
“Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace, leaving readers on the edge of their seats. Her multilayered characters are sheer perfection, and even the most astute thriller reader won’t see where everything is going until the final threads are unknotted.” —Booklist, starred review
“Sharply written with twists and turns, Jewell’s latest will please fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, or Luckiest Girl Alive." —Library Journal
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?
Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.
Read an Excerpt
Then She Was Gone
Laurel let herself into her daughter’s flat. It was, even on this relatively bright day, dark and gloomy. The window at the front was overwhelmed by a terrible tangle of wisteria while the other side of the flat was completely overshadowed by the small woodland it backed onto.
An impulse buy, that’s what it had been. Hanna had just got her first bonus and wanted to throw it at something solid before it evaporated. The people she’d bought the flat from had filled it with beautiful things but Hanna never had the time to shop for furnishings and the flat now looked like a sad postdivorce downsizer. The fact that she didn’t mind her mum coming in when she was out and cleaning it was proof that the flat was no more than a glorified hotel room to her.
Laurel swept, by force of habit, down Hanna’s dingy hallway and straight to the kitchen, where she took the cleaning kit from under the sink. It looked as though Hanna hadn’t been home the night before. There was no cereal bowl in the sink, no milk splashes on the work surface, no tube of mascara left half-open by the magnifying makeup mirror on the windowsill. A plume of ice went down Laurel’s spine. Hanna always came home. Hanna had nowhere else to go. She went to her handbag and pulled out her phone, dialed Hanna’s number with shaking fingers, and fumbled when the call went through to voicemail as it always did when Hanna was at work. The phone fell from her hands and toward the floor where it caught the side of her shoe and didn’t break.
“Shit,” she hissed to herself, picking up the phone and staring at it blindly. “Shit.”
She had no one to call, no one to ask: Have you seen Hanna? Do you know where she is? Her life simply didn’t work like that. There were no connections anywhere. Just little islands of life dotted here and there.
It was possible, she thought, that Hanna had met a man, but unlikely. Hanna hadn’t had a boyfriend, not one, ever. Someone had once mooted the theory that Hanna felt too guilty to have a boyfriend because her little sister would never have one. The same theory could also be applied to her miserable flat and nonexistent social life.
Laurel knew simultaneously that she was overreacting and also that she was not overreacting. When you are the parent of a child who walked out of the house one morning with a rucksack full of books to study at a library a fifteen-minute walk away and then never came home again, then there is no such thing as overreacting. The fact that she was standing in her adult daughter’s kitchen picturing her dead in a ditch because she hadn’t left a cereal bowl in the sink was perfectly sane and reasonable in the context of her own experience.
She typed the name of Hanna’s company into a search engine and pressed the link to the phone number. The switchboard put her through to Hanna’s extension and Laurel held her breath.
“Hanna Mack speaking.”
There it was, her daughter’s voice, brusque and characterless.
Laurel didn’t say anything, just touched the off button on her screen and put her phone back into her bag. She opened Hanna’s dishwasher and began unstacking it.
This reading group guide for Then She Was Gone includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. . Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. Then She Was Gone is, first and foremost, a mystery. Yet many questions are answered quite early on in the book. How soon did you guess what really happened to Ellie, and if you did, did it affect your enjoyment of the book?
2. In the prologue, it says “Looking at it backward it was obvious all along.” Now that you’ve finished the novel, do you agree? What “warning signs” referred to in the prologue might Ellie have spotted if she’d been more aware?
3. Did you think Lisa Jewell’s portrayal of Laurel and her journey was realistic? Could you relate to the way she dealt with her grief, or did you find it alienating?
4. What was your impression of Poppy when she is first introduced? Did this change over the course of the book, and if so, how?
5. Then She Was Gone is divided into six parts. Why do you think Lisa structured the book this way? How would you categorize each section—what makes it distinct from the other parts of the book?
6. For much of the book, Laurel and her daughter Hanna have a fraught relationship as Laurel fails to let go of unfavorable comparisons between Hanna and Ellie. Do you think it’s normal to have a favorite child? How should parents handle these feelings if they arise?
7. Throughout the novel, Laurel has moments in which she feels something is not quite right, but often writes it off as paranoia as a result of losing her daughter. Have you ever written off your own concerns? How can you distinguish between when you are being pessimistic, and when you should trust your intuition?
8. There are four different perspectives shown in the book, but only Noelle and Floyd’s narration are in first person. Why do you think Lisa chose to write their chapters in first person, directly addressing other characters, while Laurel and Ellie’s chapters were told through third person? What effect did this have on you as you read?
9. Floyd and Noelle are both characters with some obsessive tendencies. What other similarities do they share, and in what ways are they different? Were you able to sympathize with either or both of them?
10. In chapters from Ellie’s perspective, she repeatedly brings up the subject of blame, thinking of all the moments that led to what happened to her and what she “should” have done differently, or what others could have done to save her. As you read, did you find yourself blaming characters for the unforeseen consequences of the choices they made? If so, in which situations?
11. At the end of the book, Laurel notes that she “hasn’t told Poppy the full truth” (page 351) about everything that happened. Do you think she ever will? How would Poppy react to learning the secrets of her background?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Then She Was Gone references in an excerpt from Ellie’s diary, Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, another story about a young teenager who goes missing and the fallout of her unsolved disappearance on her family. Consider making The Lovely Bones your next book club read and discussing what parallels you find between the two novels, and what distinguishes them.
2. Both Noelle and Floyd talk about the lasting impact unpleasant aspects of their childhoods had on them, yet Floyd and Laurel both seem optimistic about Poppy’s resiliency and ability to thrive despite the disturbing background of her early years. Consider how you think being raised by Noelle and Floyd may have shaped Poppy. Choose an age, fifteen or older, and imagine what Poppy will be like then. Write a short story about her that touches on how she has grown and whether she has moved past the traumatic circumstances of her youth. Share with your reading group and compare your impressions of how Poppy will develop.
3. Check out more of Lisa Jewell’s books, such as I Found You and The Girls in the Garden. To find out more about Lisa, visit www.facebook.com/LisaJewellofficial, or follow her on Twitter @lisajewelluk.
Then She Was Gone 4.4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
The connections were such a twist. Had me reading non stop. Good story line, amazing plot twists. Absolutely loved this book
More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book! Kept be wanting to get to the end as soon as I could. You still did not know what would happen to the very end.
More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had a hard time putting it down and haven't read a book that fast in ages!
More than 1 year ago
Bizarre indeed but wickedly captivating. I couldn’t put it down without a fight! One of my favorite psych thrillers for sure.
More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Story flows with no slow spots. Twisty and turny.
More than 1 year ago
I almost gave up about 100 pages in. So glad I didn’t. What an extraordinary story.
8 months ago
4 months ago
10 months ago
I was looking for a fun, easy thriller- which is exactly what this is- but about a third of the plot becomes to predictable to remain an exciting read
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
then she was gone is a darker book than i usually like to read. sometimes i try to branch out from romance and happy endings. and sometimes i enjoy a good thriller. but maybe it's because i'm a mom. but missing kids. dead kids aren't really something i enjoy reading about. this book is like gone girl meets the lovely bones, and if you like those books you will probably like this.
it's just not the right book for me. some of the twists in this book i technically figured out from the description, and i didn't love how telegraphed certain things were. in the end, there's a reason i stay in my comfort zone. i'm not into being disturbed by the books i read, even if i'm drawn to them by the pretty covers.
**then she was gone will publish on april 17, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/atria books in exchange for my honest review.
7 days ago
"Then She Was Gone" is not really a story about how the said "She" - Ellie, is gone, but the pieces that are left once Ellie is. Although the author, Lisa Jewell, does tell the story of Ellie's disappearance, the main character here is her mother Laurel, and how she copes with the loss of her daughter. This story has surprising twists and turns and is essentially a thriller, just told on a less than linear timeline making less shocking and more predictable.
Our book group initially liked the book, most members praising it as a quick and enjoyable read. However the discussion highlighted the lack of character development and the sick and twisted nature of this creepy story, bringing the rating at the end of the meeting to a solid 3 stars from almost all our members.
7 days ago
One of my favorite books by Lisa Jewell. I could not put this one down! Great read and I highly recommend it!!
I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up at the store on Sunday. I started reading it on Monday and finished it Tuesday night. It is one of those books that once you pick it up it is hard to put it back down. Lisa Jewells way of writing and the way that it is broken up into different point of views makes you want to keep reading, so you can find out the next persons thoughts. If you are into psychological thrillers I would definitely recommend.
7 months ago
“A man who can’t love but desperately needs to be loved is a dangerous thing indeed.”
Number of Pages: 359
Perspective: First / Third Alternating
Location: United Kingdom
Then She Was Gone is about fifteen-year-old “golden child” Ellie Mack who goes missing. It is written off as a perfectionist running away from the pressure. Ten years later, her mom is still grieving and looking for answers when she meets the charming, but mysterious, Floyd and his nine-year-old daughter that looks exactly like Ellie.
TL;DR: Quick mystery that's more about character development than the easily-solvable whodunit.
Full Review: http://judgingmorethanjustthecover.com/2019/03/review-then-she-was-gone-lisa-jewell.html
9 months ago
I read thrillers off and on as I read many genres of books. I read this one as it was chosen as a book to read for the book club I am in. It did start out a bit slow for me, but it did pick up as the story set up was complete. It was well written, and I enjoyed all the twists and turns that the story brought. I do like books that flash back and forth from present to past so that you can see what happens that leads up to the disappearance. Overall, I think that this was a great book and am glad that I read it.
11 months ago
Great read! Kept me wondering where the story was going. Loved it!
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