Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

by Lisa Jewell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501154645
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 04/17/2018
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 17,911
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

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.

  • Reading Group Guide

    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, or follow her on Twitter @lisajewelluk.

    Customer Reviews

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    Then She Was Gone 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
    Anonymous 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
    Anonymous 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.
    Anonymous 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.
    Anonymous 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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very well written. Story flows with no slow spots. Twisty and turny.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I almost gave up about 100 pages in. So glad I didn’t. What an extraordinary story.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    etoile1996 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.
    Anonymous 17 hours 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
    Anonymous 6 days ago
    Great read! Kept me wondering where the story was going. Loved it!
    HugsandKissesforBooks 11 days ago
    Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a heart-wrenching mystery! The prologue pulled me right in, making me want to unravel what happened to Ellie. The story alternates between Ellie’s past leading up to her disappearance... and her mother Laurel’s present. A few more points of view are added in eventually, helping the reader discover more about Ellie and the other characters. I enjoyed the English setting and the author’s vivid descriptions, especially of smells. I became absorbed in the mystery and the harsh reality of tragedy caused by others and how the story comes full circle, 5 stars!
    Take_Me_AwayPH 15 days ago
    When I first started this, I almost gave up on it. It starts incredibly slow, but as you get closer to the end, you can see just how crazy all of them got. For once I let go of not being hooked right away and was able to get all the way through the book. And I'm glad I changed my mind. Back then, Laurel's daughter Ellie went missing. Ten years later, Laurel is still looking for signs of what happened to her. But then a man named Floyd walks into her life and she is smitten. He brings with him his daughter, Poppy. She is the splitting image of Ellie at her age and Laurel can't shake the likeliness of her. But as the story unfolds, Laurel gets so much more than she bargained for. I have NEVER read anything by Jewell before, but as a thriller reader, I found out she was an adult thriller staple. So I tried it. And I'm glad I did. At the beginning I wasn't really that into it. But I was glad I read it via CD audio because it forced me to keep reading. Because I read it that way, I was able to stick with it and I slogged through enough to the "good stuff." Which also happened to be the super weird stuff. As for the plot, it starts a bit slow, but being honest, it's just that way as a set up for the rest of the story. Jewell carefully sets up the stage and introduces all the characters to make you trust them all. She gets you comfortable, which in a thriller you know you shouldn't be. Jewell is a great storyteller and knows how to get her readers to look in one direction, when in fact, everything is happening right under their nose. As for the characters, I was not a fan of any of them. But I've realized that's how I am with most thrillers. I don't trust anyone. But everyone in this one was on the level of Joe from You by Caroline Kepnes creepy. Even the younger ones. They were all weird and all played a major part in the disappearance and the ending. Last but not least, I was not a fan of the ending. I really wanted to know what happened to a certain character. There needed to be a prologue or something. Did they ever wonder what happened? Did they ever feel the need to do something? I just felt like it was too loose of an ending. For thrillers, I like the endings to be more clean and tidy. I don't like to have to make up my own ending in my head. This was not what I was expecting, but it was still such a great story! After reading this one, I will definitely be reading more by Jewell to experience more of her storytelling and super strange characters.
    Anonymous 29 days ago
    Laurel and Paul’s teenage daughter, Ellie, went missing one day on her way to the library. After exhaustive searches, she was never found. It has been 10 long and difficult years for the family. Then, the police called to say they had found her backpack nearby some human bones but no other clues. Before Ellie disappeared, she asked for a math tutor so her Mum hired a middle aged woman named Noelle. After a time, she told her Mum she didn’t need the tutor anymore. Laurel and Paul’s grief finally ended their marriage. They have two older children, Hanna and Jake. After Ellie went missing, Laurel fell into a deep depression essentially ignoring her family and home. Paul has since met someone he is dating. One day, Laurel meets a man named Floyd when she is in a cafe. They hit it off. Floyd is divorced with two daughters, the youngest, Poppy, age 9, lives with him. She is a precocious little girl and Paul homeschools her. But, oh my. she looks so much like Ellie. Before long, Laurel and Floyd are spending lots of time together and falling in love. Will Laurel ever find out what happened to Ellie? Will she ever find a way to have closure and to allow herself to carry on with life? This book is brilliant and totally outstanding! I have read this author’s work before and she is amazing. I was so impressed with how the author dropped little bits of information here and there that made lots of things all come together. Beautifully written, this book will tug at your heartstrings, make you angry, and make you think. I loved it. Hope others will as well. I borrowed this book from my local library as the publisher had denied my request to read an ARC from NetGalley.
    Anonymous 3 months ago
    Anonymous 4 months ago
    Excellent read
    Donna 11 months ago
    Great book. Strong characters. Complex plot. Twists that you won't see coming. Very emotional and hard to put down.
    Sandy5 12 months ago
    4.5 stars There were parts of this book that I found creepy as I read. I kept thinking isn’t this odd that this is happening and then finally, things started to add up. I couldn’t put everything together until the very end though. I liked that about this novel, how it was a show reveal and then you get the full details at the very end. I felt that I have some intelligence as I am reading and I wasn’t totally blown away by my lack of skill. In the story, Laurel’s oldest daughter Elle, left the house one day and never returned. The story flashes back to the time before Elle vanishes so the reader gets to know the circumstances surrounding her disappearance. Back in the present day, Laurel meets a man and she starts dating him. He seems over zealous with Laurel and Laurel is a bit apprehensive as this is her first experience dating again. I’m not going to go into much more detail but to say that sometimes individuals go through life and they’re not really present. They’re not really in the moment, they’re there but not fully comprehending what’s going on. I enjoyed this novel, not a lot of characters and an enjoyable plot. I thought the ending was excellent, all the way down to the Red Cross book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    So good read it. You wont be disappointed
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Couldn’t put down. Well written. Can’t wait to read her other books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book will keep you on the edge of your seat. Lots of twists and turns. Very intriguing.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I was told to go get this book - to stop what I was doing & go get it immediately. Well.... I Started it yesterday & I absolutely couldn’t put it down. Excellent storyline. This book will be my favorite one this year for sure! Because of this book I will check out her others!
    EverEmma More than 1 year ago
    *Big thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley for granting me access to an ARC of this title!* I have been on a bit of a thriller kick this year, and the synopsis of Then She Was Gone sounded both terrifying and incredibly intriguing. I'm happy to report that it is one of those reads that you will find yourself staying up way too late to finish. WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I don't want to give anything away, so I won't get too into this, but there were some aspects of the story that I found a bit far-fetched. There were also some parts of the story-line that were too vague for me. WHAT I LIKED: What makes this different from some of the other thrillers I have been indulging in lately is the fact that the story is told by many different characters. I LOVED this. I often find myself wondering about other characters intentions and perspectives and this tale had all of that. I think some readers may not enjoy that this isn't quite a mystery. It's fairly obvious where the tale is going, but if you enjoy seeing characters develop then you'll be able to let that go. WHO SHOULD READ THIS? I think anyone who enjoys a character-driven, suspenseful tale will really find themselves enjoying this tale.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Read this book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I couldn't put this book down! Love this book!