Friday, 7 September 2018

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell - Book Review

"Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months. Really. Just the best. Every moment presented itself to her like a gift and said, "Here I am, another perfect moment, just look at me, can you believe how lovely I am?"

She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blinnk 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?

It is every parent's worst nightmare that their child might go missing. From newborn to adult the pain must be intolerable and the sense of despair overwhelming. Lisa Jewell has created this scenario around her main character, Laurel, and she has executed this brilliantly.

This is an author that people have been recommending to me for ages and I have only just gotten around to reading one of her books. I enjoyed it enormously for the tension and psychological suspense that she creates.

The bulk of the novel is set a decade after Ellie's disappearance and I am not giving anything away by saying that we do find out what happens to Ellie part way through the narrative. The novel moves seamlessly back and forth in time and the change in voice is easy to follow.

Ms. Jewell is an excellent storyteller and she kept up the pace and suspense through the whole novel. There was an eeriness throughout which kept me turning those pages as I was completely gripped by the story. I read this in two sittings and I rarely do that with a book.

There is a great sense of characterisation in this novel and even the minor characters made a significant impact on the plot. They were all totally believable and easy to comprehend.

Novels about children going missing are never wholly comfortable to read. I think that, at the back of every readers mind, whether you are a parent or not, dwells the question, how would I ever react if I were in that situation? It allows us to probe our own psyche in a safe and controlled manner whilst we hope and pray that we will never have to experience anything so horrifying.

This may have been my first novel by this author but it most definitely will not be my last. From what others have told me the quality of this novel can be expected in her other works. Based on this book Ms. Jewell has the potential to become one of my favourite authors.

ISBN: 978 1784756253

Publisher: Arrow Books

About the Author:

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, and 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.

(biographical information courtesy of Goodreads)

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