Lisa Jewell

All posts tagged Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

Published July 27, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

What did I think?:

I’ve always heard such great things about Lisa Jewell’s writing and finally got a chance to read one of her novels when my sister Chrissi Reads and I read The Girls  when it was picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club here in the UK a little while ago. As I was expecting, I thoroughly enjoyed it and immediately purchased her last novel, I Found You for my Kindle. Even more recently, a little competition was held on Twitter to win a proof copy of Lisa’s new novel, Then She Was Gone which is released today (happy publication day!) and I was delighted to be in the lucky winner – thank you so much to Century at Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review it. I’m also pleased to announce that after the roller-coaster ride that this novel took me on, I will certainly be re-visiting the author’s entire back catalogue. She writes such thrilling stories that they really are the purest definition of “unputdownable,” that you could ever imagine and I’m delighted to find a new to me author where I have such a wealth of past works to peruse!

But, back to Then She Was Gone. This is a novel where our main protagonist, Laurel lost her teenage daughter Ellie a decade ago and never knew what happened to her. The traumatic experience that she has gone through has affected her life in so many ways. Not only has her relationship with her husband been torn apart but she is also struggling to maintain a close bond with her other two children, both older than Ellie. Laurel eventually does find out what has happened to her daughter so there is some closure on that front, but it does not make up for never knowing where she was all that time, who was responsible for her disappearance and what happened to her while she was gone.

A chance meeting with Floyd, father to a young girl called Poppy seems to change everything for Laurel. She realises that she is allowed to be laugh, love and be happy again. However, Laurel finds herself coming up with more questions rather than answers, mainly as the spectre of her missing daughter is a constant presence in her mind, in particular as Floyd’s daughter has a startling resemblance to Ellie when she was that age. Laurel cannot get away from the fact that she needs to know what happened to her daughter so she can finally put her to rest. Yet the secrets that she manages to unearth may not be what she wanted to know after all.

I love the kind of books where it’s absolutely impossible to predict what’s going to happen, I love to be surprised and shocked by twists and turns in a plot and that’s precisely what I got with Then She Was Gone. I enjoyed reading about Laurel and her family as characters but the part that really pulled me in and kept me hooked was Ellie’s side of the story. We learn, in vivid detail, what happened to Ellie on that fateful day that she vanished and it’s completely mind blowing, I promise. Lisa Jewell has a real gift for pulling the reader in with exciting and nail-biting moments and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading this novel. The mystery behind Ellie’s disappearance is fascinating and terrible all at the same time, particularly when we learn what she has gone through. Lisa Jewell explores the boundaries of a psychologically deranged mind in a brilliant manner that will leave you disturbed and chilled to the bone yet strangely hungry for more.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Talking About The Girls by Lisa Jewell with Chrissi Reads

Published August 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery and the games people play: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this author before starting this book?

BETH: Hmm, I don’t think I had any preconceptions but I definitely had expectations. Lisa Jewell is a favourite author of one of my favourite bloggers, Cleopatra Loves Books and I always meant to read one of her books. I was super glad when Richard and Judy picked it as one of their books for Summer 2016 as you know we follow this list religiously and I knew I was going to finally get the opportunity to read her! Now that I have, I can see what Cleo is talking about and I’m going to make it my mission to read her back catalogue… er… eventually!

BETH: How do you think the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel? Does this have any bearings on what happened?
CHRISSI: What an interesting question! I do think that the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel, in very different ways. I feel like they did miss their father but it manifested in different ways. Grace, I believe, was more angry with her father whereas Pip missed him dearly. Her letters to him were adorable and so touching. I’m not so sure about it having any bearings on what happens but it would be interesting, if there was a father figure around, whether certain events would have played out in the same way.

CHRISSI: What do you think the location of the novel in a residential square adds to the novel?

BETH: I think it gives the story as a whole a lot more atmosphere and tension. The characters that we meet all live in very close proximity to each other and the huge gardens that surround the houses are communal. It can be a bit cliquey, and the neighbours that don’t join in with the activities are viewed with a bit of suspicion. It also offers a lot of opportunities for situations to escalate, gossip to spread and tension to rise.

BETH: This is a story about secrets – is it ever better to keep a secret than to share?
CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a particularly tricky question, especially because of the job I’m in.  As a teacher working with young children we are always taught to be very careful around ‘secrets’ for child protection issues. Unfortunately, when some bad things happen to children they are asked to keep it secret otherwise there will be trouble. It’s an awkward one. When I’ve discussed the topic of secrets with my class, I always say that there are secrets that can be fun e.g. a surprise party, but some secrets can be harmful. So in answer to the question, no- it’s not ever better to keep a secret than to share. It really depends on circumstances. Secrets can hurt people but they can also protect people. Argh. Such a tricky one.

CHRISSI: Discuss the family relationships in this story.

BETH: There are quite a lot of characters to come to grips with in this novel but personally, that never overwhelmed me as the characters were written so well that I felt I knew each one of them individually which helped me connect to both them and the story. I loved the differing dynamics between the families – between parents and children, between the siblings and how the children interacted with each other across the various families. We got a wide range of personality types, parenting styles and plot twists to keep the reader turning the pages. My favourite relationship had to be Claire with her children Pip and Grace and also their absent father whose absence is a story all of its own!
BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?
CHRISSI: I really liked Pip. I found her incredibly endearing and I thought her notes to her absent father were very endearing!
CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: No, not really and I’m so glad! I do feel a bit annoyed every time I can predict where a story is going and I love to be surprised and shocked as a reader. I thought I had everything figured out in terms of what happened but I certainly didn’t even though the author leaves tiny little breadcrumb clues through the narrative. The ending also was interesting in that it didn’t finish completely how I wanted but in that way it made it better if that makes any sense?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s writing and I can totally see why Cleo is such a fan. 🙂
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
BETH’S star rating (out of 5):
four-stars_0
CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):
four-stars_0