What I thought:
Having read, and loved, I Found You, not too long ago, I was ecstatic to see that Lisa Jewell had another book out and dived straight in. Another good’n!
Fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack disappears one day on the way to the library. Ellie is pretty, popular, clever, has a boyfriend and is just about to sit her GCSE’s – she has everything going for her and everything to live for, and that’s how her mother Laurel knows she hasn’t just run away. The story hops between the time that Ellie went missing and 10 years later when Laurel is only just starting to pick up the pieces of her life (now divorced from Ellie’s father and emotionally detached from her two remaining children). When she meets a charismatic stranger, Floyd, Laurel dares to hope for some sort of future – until she meets Floyd’s 9-year-old daughter, Poppy, who bears a striking resemblance to Ellie.
While harrowing in places, it’s never gratuitous and Jewell gets it spot on in terms of pace – speeding up when mystery and intrigue are at play and slowing it down in order for the reader to fully understand the impact Ellie’s disappearance has had on everyone.
Gripping and heartfelt, Then She Was Gone has plot and characters with depth which is something of a rarity in this genre. Big thumbs up!
What I thought:
Alice lives in a cottage in a Yorkshire seaside town overlooking the beach with her three children. One rainy day she observes a man sitting on the beach all day, alone, without a coat and when she goes to speak to him she discovers he has no memory of who he is or where he has come from. Alice invites Frank (as her youngest daughter names him) to stay with her as a lodger for a while until he remembers something about himself.
Meanwhile, in London, Lily is newly married and has only been in the UK for 10 days (from the Ukraine) and still very much in the honeymoon stage so when her husband doesn’t return from work she sets about tracking him down.
The story alternates between Alice and Lily and also back to the same seaside town in 1993 where teenagers Kirsty and Gray are holidaying with their parents. On the beach they meet the handsome, enigmatic and intense Mark who befriends Kirsty before their holiday ends in a tragedy that nobody saw coming. We, the readers, are left to piece together all three strands of the book and work out how they are all linked.
The pacing was good and the momentum more than sufficient to carry me through with building curiosity and intrigue. I found the characters all believable and actually likeable in most cases, particularly the two female leads – Alice, with her chaotic life, is unapologetically human and flawed but someone I felt like I would want to know and Lily who has a fragility that made me worry for her but also a determination that made me cheer her on.
I did really enjoy this book. It was an easy and compelling read that flows well and works enough intrigue into the plot to keep a high level of interest.
Have you read this or anything else by Lisa Jewell? What are your thoughts?