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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

July 24, 2017


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.

Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.

But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.

Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.

Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?


Laurel Mack’s daughter Ellie was only 15 when she went missing. Ten years later, her family has evaporated – Ellie’s disappearance and the subsequent stress caused the breakdown Laurel’s marriage and her relationship with her other two children is remote and difficult.

Laurel has never been able to get over Ellie’s disappearance and as the rest of her family have moved on, Laurel has drifted through the last ten years.

Then one day, seemingly by chance, she meets a man called Floyd, with whom she gets on very well and for the first time in a very long time she feels an attraction to another man. Floyd has a daughter called Poppy and Poppy stirs memories in Laurel that remind her of Ellie.

Told primarily from Laurel’s viewpoint, there are also other perspectives – that of Noelle the somewhat unattractive maths tutor who was helping Ellie with her maths exams – and we also get some of Ellie’s voice.

Lisa Jewell does characterisation well. She creates vivid, well-drawn characters with emotional resonance and realistic relationships.  I think the family relationships are really what make this book work for me; I was less convinced by the psychological thriller element of the book. That’s partly because it was pretty easy to see what was coming, but also the plot seemed to me, at least, a little far- fetched.

Yet it is undoubtedly a good and easy read with well written prose and a dark centre. All in all, I’d say a perfect summer read.

Then She Was Gone is published by Century on 27th July 2017


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About Lisa Jewell



Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

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