I really love a novel that is a nice blend of suspense and women’s fiction. I find them to be such a nice breath of fresh air in a genre saturated with serial killers and psychological thrillers (mind you, I enjoy those as well!).
After reading the synopsis of Then She Was Gone, the newest publication by Lisa Jewell, I knew this would fit that bill for me. Having read several of Jewell’s other novels, I was excited to dive into this one. Just as entertaining as her others, I flew through my reading but, truthfully, I didn’t find it to be as suspenseful as some of the other novels I have read by Jewell. I actually found it to be quite predictable but still incredibly entertaining.
Let me break it down a bit further.
So, the novel follows Laurel Mack, who is still reeling after the disappearance of her daughter, Ellie, 10 years prior. She has never been able to fully move on and this has ultimately affected most of her relationships. This begins to change when she meets Floyd and she finally starts to feel like herself again. However, Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter unsettles Laurel when she realizes she shows a startling resemblance to Ellie. All those memories of Ellie come flooding back pushing Laurel to find out once and for all what happened to her daughter.
I loved the writing style of Jewell, as I always do! Something about her writing is so easy to digest. It is sort of like chatting with a good friend. I really like that I can start one of her novels and them just sort of settle in and enjoy the ride.
However, like I said above, I found this novel lacking suspense. To me, it read more like women’s fiction or contemporary family drama. I enjoyed it. I wanted to know what happened. I just feel like it was a bit misleading in this genre. Also, I felt like it was very predictable. I was able to guess what has happened very early on in the novel but was still interested to see whether or not I was correct.
Overall, I really like this novel as an easy read and will continue to read more Lisa Jewell. If you are looking for an on the edge of your seat style suspense, this will be lacking but I would highly recommend if you are looking for a well-rounded and developed story.
Thanks to the publisher (Atria), the author (Lisa Jewell) and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel. It was my pleasure to provide an honest review.
Jessica and Chandra read this one with me for #cjsreads. Want to know what they felt about Then She Was Gone? Keep reading to find out!
What Jessica Thought:
I would classify this as more women’s fiction or contemporary fiction and a little less on the thriller side, but that doesn’t take away from the novel. So that would be worth knowing before starting – if you’re looking for a crazy thriller like I FOUND YOU, then you may end up disappointed in the end. The characters were so real, the emotions were raw, and the story came together so well at the end.
Laurel Mack has the perfect teenage daughter. A smart girl, had a loving boyfriend, and close with her other siblings. At only 15 years old, Ellie disappears. Ten years later, Laurel is still trying to move on and piece her life back together. With a missing daughter, a divorce, and no new clues, she feels that it will be impossible to lead a normal life. Then one day, she meets a charming and handsome man, Floyd. When she meets his daughters, the youngest one, Poppy, stops her in her tracks. She has a striking resemblance to Ellie.
More questions pop up and Laurel is brought the emotional ringer trying to find out more about Floyd and why Poppy reminds her so much of her missing daughter. This one definitely had a more predictable ending, but that didn’t take away from the reading experience. I can see Lisa Jewell fans being split on this one, especially if they are wanting something more along the lines of I FOUND YOU.
What Chandra Thought:
As a huge fan of Lisa Jewell, I was delighted to get a copy of this book in advance. Like cartwheels and Snoopy dance delighted! I certainly wasn’t disappointed and she is a go-to auto-buy author for me!
All the way through the first half of the book it was pretty glaringly obvious what was going to come. I did think there were some plausibility issues scientifically speaking that may have been a little out there but really, in psychological thrillers, you kinda have to take those with a grain of salt. As things began to be revealed, although not quite as shocking as I prefer, I was so fully invested that I just felt along with Laurel and Poppy. FEELINGS, y’all! The ending is beautifully emotional and really tugged at my heart strings (yes, you guys, I do have a heart – weird, I know!).
Now, because of the above and the comparisons to Lisa’s extremely popular book, I Found You, I’m going to expect to see lower ratings for this book from some reviewers. But NOT FROM ME! I actually think I’m in the minority in putting this book above I Found You.
The story is told mainly through Laurel’s POV as we see the past and present over the loss of Ellie and how it not only created ripples in her marriage and her relationships with her other children, but within herself and the ability to feel at all anymore. We do get a smattering of other POVs here and there but this didn’t not distract or become confusing in any way. To be honest, my favorite prospective to read was Noelle’s – I just love disturbing minds.. I CAN’T HELP IT! And I’m absolutely in love with Poppy and her precociousness. The last half of the book is what completely sucked me in. I was on the fence until I reached this last half and then I couldn’t put it down. COULD NOT!
If you’re looking for a punch you in the throat kind of thriller with surprising twists everywhere, this isn’t the read for you. However, if you enjoy psychological thrillers with an emotional feel and a touch of domestic darkness, you’ll be happy with this read. While predictable, the way it all came together did surprise me in its own beautiful way.