*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received this book via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest review*
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.
Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.
What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?
I am enjoying Lisa Jewell's psychologically thrilling novels! She has always been able to create engaging stories and now she proves that she can successfully take this to a new darker level by creating more unnerving and more dysfunctional characters within her narratives. Her new story lines are more chilling and now full of twists and dramatic revelations. I'm sure her books will introduce new readers to the psychological thriller genre as well as satisfy those who are already firm fans.
Jewell is very accomplished at creating female character's whose mental and emotional anguish is so real and so heartfelt that the reader cannot help but become embroiled in the storyline. This novel is an excellent example of this. Laurel is a deeply traumatised woman who has never ever recovered from when her daughter disappeared. It has devastated her family and her marriage. The relationship she has with her other children is strained and often a little strange but this is a family that has been under considerable pressure. As a main character, Laurel is interesting. She is flawed and perhaps some of her choices and decisions are questionable but then this woman is devastated and operating in the only way she thinks she can.
There is a dual narrative moving between Then and Now. I enjoyed the passages from "Then" - Ellie's point of view - and her frustration at school and within her peer group. Jewell is able to capture all her character's emotional state of minds effortlessly and explores the dynamics between the characters very effectively. They all feel very real and the reader cannot fail to become caught up in their lives. I also like how the characters deliver pertinent observations and succinct comments that resonate with any reader as well as the characters:
"....the blame game could be exhausting sometimes. The blame game could make you lose you mind.....all the infinitesimal outcomes, each path breaking up into a million other paths every time you heedlessly choose one...."
This is a page turner, a novel that is rammed with tension, suspense, threatening characters, unreliable narrators, twists and dramatic revelations. It is a psychological thriller and it is also about parenting, motherhood, families and relationships. There was an element of coincidence and perhaps some readers will work out a few of the twists but all in all, it is a readable, satisfying, enjoyable read that packs an emotional punch and will leave you feeling a little raw by the time you have turned the last page.
Then She Was Gone is published on 27th July 2017.
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