Then She Was Gone: A Book Review by Richard Cummings

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)  |  Date Updated: September 30, 2020

then-she-was-gone-book-review-richard-cummingsThen She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell has one juicy plot twist and several interesting, often cringeworthy, characters. Does that make it worth a read? Let’s find out!

When I began Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, the writing and the Englishness of it all resonated with me: have I read a Lisa Jewell book before?

Of course, I thought, I have even reviewed The Family Upstairs, one of her recent novels and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

This book is about the disappearance of a young girl named Ellie. She was there one day…and Then She Was Gone. [This title makes obvious sense. However, her book title for The Family Upstairs confounded many people.]

A book with a primary plot such as this — the disappearance of a young girl — would not typically be one that I would select.

Why? Well, it certainly doesn’t promise any uplifting experience. The premise is sad and tragic and I prefer at least some measure of hope and promise.

But when you begin at such a low point, I suppose there’s really only one direction to go.

So, let’s see if Then She Was Gone can take us there.

Book Summary: Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell

The book begins with Ellie Mack, the perfect daughter. As we read on the Amazon page for the book:

“She was fifteen, the youngest of three. Beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers, and half of a teenaged golden couple. Ellie was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.”

The book then becomes a whodunit. Divided into five parts, and narrated by various characters both then and now, the book gradually reveals the surprising plot twist.

If you set the book aside for a moment, and consider the events at play and the various time sequences, you’ll probably arrive at the plot twist in your mind before it’s revealed in the text.

But, for me, this did not detract from the experience of Then She Was Gone.

The book does not rely exclusively on the plot. If it did, we could summarize it in one-long-run-on sentence.

Where Lisa Jewell excels, as she did so in The Family Upstairs, is with character development: the mom of Ellie, devastated by the loss of her favorite daughter; the sister of Ellie, losing a sibling and left with a mom who always put her in second place; the father of Ellie, who fails to succeed in sustaining a marriage to someone who cannot overcome her grief.

These are just some of the principal characters in Then She Was Gone — and they’re not even the real juicy ones.

You’ll have to read it to find out who they are…lest I spoil the plot.

Final Recommendation on Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Do you ever read a book, realize that you really liked it, but you can’t quite pinpoint why?

This is my response to both of the Lisa Jewell books I’ve read: Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs.

They’re distinctly English and not overly suspenseful but they are a joy to read!

I recommend this book and, apparently, so do 10,000 other people.

Check out the latest Amazon reviews.

Richard Cummings
Richard Cummings

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell has one juicy plot twist and several interesting, often cringeworthy, characters. Does that make it worth a read? Let’s find out!

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is a writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
Richard Cummings
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Richard CummingsThen She Was Gone: A Book Review by Richard Cummings

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