Then She Was Gone Book Review, Thriller by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone Synopsis

“Then She Was Gone” by Lisa Jewell unfolds as a harrowing psychological thriller, weaving a tale that grips the heart and stirs the mind with unanswered questions. The story begins with the disappearance of Ellie Mack, a 15-year-old girl who was, in every sense, her mother Laurel Mack’s golden girl. Ellie’s vanishing acts as a pivot, around which the entire narrative revolves, painting a portrait of a family shattered and a mother’s ceaseless search for truth.

The plot thickens with the introduction of Floyd Dunn, an unexpectedly charming man who enters Laurel’s life and ignites a spark of something new. However, this encounter is far from simple. Laurel is taken aback by Floyd’s youngest daughter, Poppy, who is the spitting image of Ellie. This eerie resemblance reopens old wounds and propels Laurel on a relentless quest for answers.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Ellie’s disappearance is more than a case of a missing teenager. The novel cleverly alternates between different time frames and perspectives, including those of Ellie, her mother Laurel, and other key characters, building a complex tapestry of events and emotions. The narrative structure serves to heighten the suspense, making the reader question every detail and character’s motive.

The last clue in Ellie’s case, unearthed years after her disappearance, is a turning point in the novel. It leads to a disturbing discovery involving Noelle Donnelly, a character whose presence in the story adds depth and darkness to the unfolding mystery. The revelation of Noelle’s involvement and the more sinister reason behind Ellie’s disappearance challenges everything Laurel believes about her daughter’s fate.

Set against the backdrop of an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, the story juxtaposes the innocence of youth with the grim realities of a mother grappling with the loss of her perfect daughter. The psychological depth of the novel is further enhanced by the intricate dynamics between Floyd’s daughters and Laurel, particularly the complex relationship with her own daughter, Hanna.

“Then She Was Gone” is not just a tale of a 15-year-old girl’s disappearance; it’s a journey through the labyrinth of a mother’s heartache, a deep dive into the psyche of the characters involved, and an exploration of how one tragic event can redefine the course of many lives. In a blink of an eye, everything changes, and what seems certain becomes clouded with doubt and fear.

The strength of the novel lies in its ability to keep the reader engaged, constantly guessing, and emotionally invested in the fate of its characters. Lisa Jewell masterfully crafts a narrative that is as compelling as it is unsettling, making “Then She Was Gone” a standout work in the genre of psychological thrillers. As the story reaches its climax, the reader is left to contemplate the fragility of life, the enduring impact of loss, and the haunting power of unanswered questions.

Then She Was Gone Main Characters

Ellie Mack

A 15-year-old girl, the perfect daughter and mother Laurel Mack’s golden girl. Ellie is intelligent, charming, and the centerpiece of her family before her mysterious disappearance.

Laurel Mack

The mother of Ellie Mack, deeply affected by her daughter’s disappearance. She is a character of strength and vulnerability, whose life is upended and consumed by the quest to find out what happened to Ellie.

Floyd Dunn

An unexpectedly charming and charismatic stranger who enters Laurel’s life. He is significant for his connection to the mystery of Ellie’s disappearance and for his relationship with Laurel.


Floyd Dunn’s young daughter, who bears a striking resemblance to the missing Ellie. Her eerie similarity to Ellie reopens old wounds and raises crucial questions in the narrative.

Noelle Donnelly

A pivotal character linked to Ellie’s disappearance. She plays a crucial role in the unfolding of the story’s mystery, with her actions having deep and dark implications.


Laurel’s other daughter, who also navigates the complexities of her family’s situation. Her character adds depth to the family dynamics and the impact of Ellie’s disappearance on each family member.

Then She Was Gone Writing Style

As I delved into the pages of “Then She Was Gone” by Lisa Jewell, I found myself swept away by its many strengths, yet also pausing at some of its weaknesses. One of the most striking aspects of Jewell’s writing is her engaging style and well-crafted narrative structure. The use of alternating chapters and diverse points of view kept me on the edge of my seat, eager to turn each page. Furthermore, the characters, especially Ellie, were remarkably well-developed. Their complex emotions and depth truly resonated with me, making the story all the more rich and immersive.

However, as I progressed through the book, I couldn’t help but notice its predictability. Many times, I found myself foreseeing major twists and plot points, which somewhat dampened the suspense and thrill I was expecting. Another aspect that gave me pause was the dark and disturbing content. Certain parts of the book were quite heavy, and at times, challenging to read, especially for those who might be sensitive to such themes.

Additionally, the multiple and alternating points of view introduced a level of complexity that was at times confusing. This aspect occasionally disrupted the flow of the story, making it a bit harder for me to stay fully engaged with the plot and characters. Despite these drawbacks, the novel’s exploration of themes like grief, denial, and hope, predominantly through Laurel’s perspective, added a poignant layer to the narrative, making it a compelling read overall.

Then She Was Gone Book Review: Final Verdict

For those who revel in the twists and turns of a well-crafted psychological thriller, “Then She Was Gone” by Lisa Jewell might just be the next must-read on your list. Particularly, fans of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” are likely to find this novel captivating. Much like “Gone Girl,” Jewell’s book masterfully weaves a tale of suspense and mystery, delving deep into the psyche of its characters.

If you were enthralled by the intricate plot and character dynamics in “Gone Girl,” you’ll appreciate the similar elements in “Then She Was Gone.” The book’s narrative structure, with its alternating timelines and points of view, creates a suspenseful rhythm that keeps the reader engaged and guessing. This stylistic choice, akin to Flynn’s method, ensures that every chapter adds a new layer to the unfolding mystery, making it a compelling read for those who love piecing together clues and untangling psychological puzzles.

Author Profile

Susanna Nicholson
Susanna NicholsonReader, Writer
I spend my days immersed in the world of books, finding solace in their pages. In my spare time, I transform into a critic, penning reviews that unravel the magic and mystery of each story. This passion for reading is not just a hobby; it’s a part of who I am.
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