Then She Was Gone: A Novel

Then She Was Gone: A Novel

by Lisa Jewell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501154652
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 118
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen 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

  • Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months. Really. Just the best. Every moment presented itself to her like a gift and said, Here I am, another perfect moment, just look at me, can you believe how lovely I am? Every morning was a flurry of mascara and butterflies, quickening pulse as she neared the school gates, blooming joy as her eyes found him. School was no longer a cage; it was the bustling, spotlit film set for her love story.

    Ellie Mack could not believe that Theo Goodman had wanted to go out with her. Theo Goodman was the best-looking boy in year eleven, bar none. He’d also been the best-looking boy in year ten, year nine, and year eight. Not year seven though. None of the boys in year seven were good-looking. They were all tiny, bug-eyed babies in huge shoes and oversized blazers.

    Theo Goodman had never had a girlfriend and everyone thought maybe he was gay. He was kind of pretty, for a boy, and very thin. And just, basically, really, really nice. Ellie had dreamed about being with him for years, whether he was gay or not. She would have been happy just to have been his friend. His young, pretty mum walked to school with him every day. She wore gym gear and had her hair in a ponytail and usually had a small white dog with her that Theo would pick up and kiss on the cheek before placing it gently back down on the pavement; then he would kiss his mum and saunter through the gates. He didn’t care who saw. He wasn’t embarrassed by the powder-puff dog or his mum. He was self-assured.

    Then one day last year, just after the summer holiday, he had struck up a conversation with her. Just like that. During lunch, something to do with some homework assignment or other, and Ellie, who really knew nothing much about anything, knew immediately that he wasn’t gay and that he was talking to her because he liked her. It was totally obvious. And then, just like that, they were boyfriend and girlfriend. She’d thought it would be more complicated.

    But one wrong move, one tiny kink in the time line, it was all over. Not just their love story, but all of it. Youth. Life. Ellie Mack. All gone. All gone forever. If she could rewind the timeline, untwist it and roll it back the other way like a ball of wool, she’d see the knots in the yarn, the warning signs. Looking at it backward it was obvious all along. But back then, when she knew nothing about anything, she had not seen it coming. She had walked straight into it with her eyes open.

  • 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

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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    Then She Was Gone 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 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 11 months 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
    Very well written. Story flows with no slow spots. Twisty and turny.
    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 8 months ago
    I almost gave up about 100 pages in. So glad I didn’t. What an extraordinary story.
    Anonymous 9 months ago
    Anonymous 11 months ago
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had a hard time putting it down and haven't read a book that fast in ages!
    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.
    Donna 6 months ago
    Great book. Strong characters. Complex plot. Twists that you won't see coming. Very emotional and hard to put down.
    Sandy5 7 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 7 months ago
    So good read it. You wont be disappointed
    Anonymous 9 months ago
    Great book
    Anonymous 9 months ago
    Couldn’t put down. Well written. Can’t wait to read her other books.
    Anonymous 10 months ago
    This book will keep you on the edge of your seat. Lots of twists and turns. Very intriguing.
    Anonymous 11 months 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 12 months 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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great read
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The story was very interesting and the twists of the storyline were great. Hard to put down.
    taramichelle More than 1 year ago
    Then She Was Gone sounded like an amazing book. Unfortunately, it was a bit predictable. I figured out what the end was going to be pretty early on in the book. After that, it was just a waiting game to see if I was right (I was). That pretty much ruined the suspense for me, particularly because I could also see the smaller reveals coming. While I didn’t think the novel had a lot of tension, I did enjoy the characters. Jewell has a way of creating vibrant characters that feel so realistic and relatable. Both Ellie and Laurel were great characters. Had this book’s plot been a bit more suspenseful and less predictable, I think it could have been great. I think I’ll check out some of Jewell’s other books, I liked her characters and writing style enough to give her another shot. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
    ebookreviewgal More than 1 year ago
    Ellie Mack was a fifteen year old girl when she mysteriously disappeared without a trace on her way to the library. Everyone who knew her was impressed with the beautiful and intelligent teen, especially her mother Laurel. Ten years go by and Laurel’s life hasn’t advanced much, even though her remaining two children and now ex-husband have managed to moved on, Laurel remains stuck. Police seem to have written Ellie off as a runaway. Her mother knows better. When new evidence is discovered, the pain of having lost her golden child is a reopened wound for Laurel. When she meets charismatic and distinguished Floyd, Laurel is smitten. Despite repeated warning signs, Laurel finds herself delving deeper into a fast-moving relationship with Floyd and his precocious, and truly odd nine year old daughter Poppy, who happens to look eerily like Ellie. I decided to put a hold on this book at my local library, just in case. I’ve been duped by raving reviews before and I’m tired of plunking down nearly thirty bucks just to end up being disappointed. So glad I turned to the library for this one. “More than a whiff of The Lovely Bones wafts through this domestic noir…,” touts Publishers Weekly. I can agree there’s a whiff of something here, but it’s certainly not The Lovely Bones, which is a truly fantastic and beautifully written story. Then She Was Gone doesn’t even come close to the quality of Alice Sebold’s beloved book. Then She Was Gone was all over the place. POV, tense, time – it all bounced from place to place and I honestly found that the author spoke in the same voice regardless of whose POV I was reading. The majority of the book was written in present tense, which I HATE. I almost stopped reading for that reason alone. In fact, I soon found that my one motivation to continue reading was so I could write a proper book review to warn other readers. This book, as so many other readers have mentioned, is extremely sad and dark, Dark, DARK. So bizarrely, disgustingly dark I really had to wonder about the author’s mindset. She even mentions at the end of the book that she knew the book was bizarre and apparently, her editors agreed to the point that they proposed a suggestion that “was indeed radical”. I shudder to think what the book was before this “radical change” was made. Laurel’s character was completely and utterly unlikable. In fact, the phrase dumber than a box of rocks comes to mind. All clues point to some very dastardly doings, but Laurel plows ahead full on with her new relationship with Floyd and the odd little Poppy. And the way Laurel treated and spoke to her family was appalling. She literally had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I never once felt any compassion for her. On the other hand, I was heartbroken for Ellie. I figured out the What very, very early on in the book. There was absolutely no suspenseful buildup as promised. I just didn’t quite get the How as soon. I do have to say that when we discover the How it ends up being only slightly less disgusting than the How I had begun to imagine in this dysfunctional mess. If I read one more book about some mess of a nutcase woman who goes around destroying everyone else around her because she’s just that darn self-centered and broken I think I’ll scream. The only thing that surprised me here was that the author and publisher didn’t title this book Then THE GIRL Was Gone.
    JennGrand More than 1 year ago
    Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter, student, girlfriend and sister. At 15 years old, she was ready to enter into a fun summer of sun, friends and no responsibilities. But all of the sudden she disappears.  Now, 10 years later, her mom, Laurel, is opening up the search for Ellie, after a new clue seems to appear. Laurel meets a man named Floyd and when their relationship deepens and Laurel meets Floyd's daughters, her breath is taken away. [And yes, you'll have to read the book to find out why...(insert evil laugh here)] But seriously, if you liked books such as The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, What She Knew, then you will LOVE this book. It's intense, and while it may not be filled with as many twists as other suspense novels, I still really loved it. And it has an ending that you'll love.  My review is in exchange for a free ARC from the publisher. All opinions are honest and my own.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Read this long into the night ( glad I'm retired). Looking forward to other books from this very talented author!!! Highly recommend.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Really good book. The ending just gave you more and more and MORE twists!