I always thought of myself as a fan of any mystery/thriller premise. Any story revolving around crime. Characters trying to figure out what really happened. These were the main elements that sucked me in.
After reading «Then She Was Gone» by Lisa Jewell, I realized that I much prefer novels centered around the “Who did it” question than “Why it happened”. There is just something so addicting about gathering clues, brainstorming and constantly questioning who the villain is!
Lisa Jewell gave us a different type of thriller – a character-driven mystery, showcasing the flawed people and their motives, instead of a fast-paced page-turner with an unpredictable turn of events.
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.
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If you go into this expecting some great mysteries and plot twists, this is not a book for you. But if you’d like a fast-paced novel with a lot of character revelations, «Then She Was Gone» will be a perfect read!
WHAT I LIKED:
1 – The writing (or should I say “the narration”?). I listened to the audiobook during my weekly travels to and from classes. The narration was masterfully done by Gabrielle Glaister (she was a perfect Laurel Mack), whose voice blends so well with the story and its eerie setting. But of course, the audiobook experience wouldn’t be as good, if not for the eloquent writing style used by Lisa Jewell. In just a couple of words and sentences, she was able to transmit feelings specific to each character – Laurel’s anguish, Noelle’s desperation, and Floyd’s impersonation.
2 – The underlined grieving mother trope. There weren’t many surprises in this book, but somehow Laurel and her family captured my interest in just a few chapters. In the beginning I was expecting some major plot twists, however quickly understood that this was not that type of a book, and immersed myself into relationships and development of each character.
You might think that since the whole story revolved around the disappearance of Ellie Mack, she would be our “main character”. Which was not the case. We hear a lot ABOUT Ellie, how she was this “golden girl”, the smartest, the prettiest and most wonderful child in the whole world. (most of Ellie’s descriptions given by Laurel, her grieving mother, who was rather biased.) In reality, Laurel and her relationships with her mother, with her children, with her ex-husband and finally with Floyd and Poppy were the main focus of Lisa Jewell’s narrative. I would even say that this was a Literary Fiction masked as Thriller.
In «Then She Was Gone» Lisa Jewell explored the darkest feelings, fears and struggles of a family that went through the disappearance of one of their members.
3 – The eerie ambiance. Whenever I think back on this book, for some reason I imagine myself reading it in the dark. Even though I listened to it mostly in the daylight! And that can only be explained by the dark and chilly settings created by the narrator, and the events of the story.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
1 – Lack of surprises. Even if this book wasn’t a real thriller, I still expected at least a few surprising plot twists. And was very disappointed when I was always a few steps ahead. The clues sparsely spread out here and there were not subtle. I was able to pick them up almost immediately and then just waiting for the confirmation of my thought. Just like with the «Nine Perfect Strangers» by Liane Moriarty, I kept waiting for something grand to happen and prove me wrong, but no…
Atmospheric and deeply emotional, «Then She Was Gone» is a perfect read for anyone who loves Literary Fiction and wants to try their luck with Mystery / Thriller novels. Almost a transitional fiction between these two genres.
P.S. If you, like me, read this book but expected something different from it. Did you know that Lisa Jewell’s first draft actually had a different ending?! And you can read it here! If you haven’t read this book, stay away from this link to avoid spoilers!
HAVE YOU READ ANY BOOKS WRITTEN BY LISA JEWELL? OR ARE YOU PLANNING ON PICKING UP ANY OF HER BOOKS?
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