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Then She Was Gone
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Archive - Group Reads > Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell (spoilers permitted) - January 2019

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (last edited Dec 16, 2018 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1233 comments Mod
Hello fellow Crime, Mystery, and Thriller readers! This discussion is about Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell.
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Information about Spoilers

Please note if you have not finished reading the book spoilers are permitted in this discussion from the start.
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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Summary

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?


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
Since spoilers are permitted in this discussion let's ask some questions and see what we all thought about this book.

1. Then She Was Gone is, first and foremost, a mystery. Yet many questions are answered quite early on in the book. How soon did you guess what really happened to Ellie, and if you did, did it affect your enjoyment of the book?

2. In the prologue, it says "Looking at it backward it was obvious all along." Now that you’ve finished the novel, do you agree? What "warning signs" referred to in the prologue might Ellie have spotted if she’d been more aware?

3. Did you think Lisa Jewell’s portrayal of Laurel and her journey was realistic? Could you relate to the way she dealt with her grief, or did you find it alienating?

4. What was your impression of Poppy when she is first introduced? Did this change over the course of the book, and if so, how?


Heidi | 3 comments Spoilers **

Thanks for these great questions Sheri! I really enjoyed the book, which I saw as a series of mysteries.

1) When reading the early segments, written for Ellie's point of view, it was clear from the get go that Noelle, the tutor was responsible for Ellie's disappearance (although the question of why the house was broken into, a red herring sometimes put some doubt here. I did not find that being pretty sure Noelle was the kidnapper changed my enjoyment of the book, it just gave clarity to the subplots. The question of why she kidnapped Ellie, who Floyd and Poppy were in relation to Noelle (and Ellie) were there.

2) The warning signs were there. Noelle was clearly obsessed with Ellie, bringing her gifts and calling her her best student. But these were warning signs of obsession. The planned kidnapping was a surprise when it happened.

3) I loved Laurel, who I found to be very human and whose journey was imperfect. She "checked out" of the family. I felt like the end of her marriage and poor relationship with the surviving kids was quite sad. What made her human were these flaws. I could see she was trying, such as cleaning her older daughter's (Hanna) flat and saving the money for future grandkids.

4. Poppy, when first introduced, was quite frankly weird. Many ultra-intelligent kids are. Floyd did not socialize her, and allow for her to have normalcy. Noelle was outright abusive to her. Poppy seemed to connect to Laurel immediately, and while initially hesitant to try "real kid" things, like leggings, did so. She definitely became more likable as a result of Laurel's ministrations and this relationship.

Really good book. I've picked up some other by this author to read too.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
1. I agree with Heidi about it being obvious about Noelle. She had a horrible childhood for sure. Knowing this didn't bother the reading of the rest of the book for me. I didn't figure out that Floyd wasn't really the father though.

2. Ellie was too young to know a lot about warning signs but she did feel uncomfortable and knew she shouldn't go into Noelle's house. I wonder if a lot of women don't get trapped in situations because they don't want to make the other person feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Like not getting on an elevator with someone that seems strange or weird - you don't want to make that person feel bad then you end up dead. I think in real life that the police would have at least questioned Noelle.

3. I thought Laura's character seemed real life. I have friends who've had children die, some suddenly, some after an illness, and they've all reacted differently. I felt sorry for the other children of one friend because everything that anyone saw, whatever happened, whatever was said, whatever was done, was somehow related back to her son that died in a car crash. Her other children were basically abandoned by her. If it was Halloween - this is Buddy's favorite time of year - and she'd take to her bed. At Christmas - Buddy loved Christmas music - and she'd take to her bed. If lunch was hotdogs - that was Buddy's favorite meal - and she'd take to her bed. It was sad for everyone.

Another couple, whose daughter died of complications from a strep infection ended up divorcing. Maybe they would have anyway. Who knows. But it left their other child without a sister and without 2 live in parents.

Probably having a child kidnapped or missing would be harder than knowing how and why your child had died.

4. For a 9 year old child, I thought Poppy was strange from beginning to end. I kept waiting for Laurel to say something to Floyd about it, like when Poppy was acting as their waiter with her hair in a bun on top of her head, but I suppose her character was too consumed with her own issues. She was written as a sweet child, but way to old for her years.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
A few more thoughts.:

5. Then She Was Gone is divided into six parts. Did it add to your reading of the book? Did it make the characters seem more defined? The storyline clearer? Did it make a difference at all?

6. For much of the book, Laurel and her daughter, Hanna, have a tense relationship as Laurel fails to let go of unfavorable comparisons between Hanna and Ellie. Do you think it’s normal to have a favorite child? Does a child who is missing or who has died automatically become the favorite child?

7. Throughout the novel, Laurel has moments in which she feels something is not quite right, but often writes it off as paranoia as a result of losing her daughter. Have you ever written off your own concerns? Are we taught it's impolite to make others feel like we're uncomfortable with them?

8. At the end, did you believe or sympathize with Floyd?

9. At the end of the book, Laurel notes that she "hasn’t told Poppy the full truth" (page 351) about everything that happened. Do you think she ever will? Would you?


Jennie | 8 comments 1. Then She Was Gone is, first and foremost, a mystery. Yet many questions are answered quite early on in the book. How soon did you guess what really happened to Ellie, and if you did, did it affect your enjoyment of the book?
The only thing I knew for sure was that Laurel had to be Poppy's grandma if Poppy looked so much like Ellie. I didn't really connect any of the dots in between. But figuring out that main point didn't make the book any less enjoyable. I was actually a little excited that I had a hunch for once that I pretty sure was correct and kept an eye out for clues that proved what I thought. I was probably a step or two ahead of where the story was, in terms of figuring things out, and I kept yelling (in my head of course) "I knew it". So that was fun for me.

4. What was your impression of Poppy when she is first introduced? Did this change over the course of the book, and if so, how?
I wasn't crazy about her when she was first introduced. Especially when she described how she didn't really care about anything. I found that so hard to believe and thought that she didn't know what she was talking about. As her character developed and more of her childlike qualities were displayed, Poppy became more likable. When she started caring about family and wanting to know who her family was, and go behind Floyd's back to do it, definitely made her more real. I'm glad that the story ended with Poppy gaining a whole family and her learning how to be a kid (with other kids).

7. Throughout the novel, Laurel has moments in which she feels something is not quite right, but often writes it off as paranoia as a result of losing her daughter. Have you ever written off your own concerns? Are we taught it's impolite to make others feel like we're uncomfortable with them?
When it comes to reading a person, I usually get some sort of vibe at the beginning. I don't immediately act on it, but I mull it over a LOT, and if I can't shake the uneasy feeling I don't write it off. When it comes to being around people who I might feel uncomfortable around, I will keep my feelings to myself and a lot of that has to do with being polite. But at the same time, I will try to get myself out of being around an uncomfortable person as much as possible. I will also bring up my discomfort with someone I trust to confirm my original vibes and voice my opinion if there is truly a problem.

8. At the end, did you believe or sympathize with Floyd?
I'm pretty sure I believe Floyd. I guessed that he had killed Noelle, but I had guessed he had done it on purpose. With all the suggestions throughout the story that he was hiding something dark, I immediately thought it must be revenge. I guess the guilt of an accidental murder could also make someone be super secretive and dark, but I would also think that would person would then maybe be more nervous and less sure of one self. Floyd seemed a bit to smooth, more like a careful murderer and less like an accidental angry killer. Having said that, I can understand why he did what he did. I feel for the guy, but I am also little bit angry at him for killing himself. Did he not think that Poppy might miss him and still want him in her life, having been a father to her? Thinking about my own adoptive parents as well as all the possibilities of starting my own family, biology isn't that important. It's the love, kindness, and honesty, that make families and I think that Floyd just needed to let go, come to terms with the past, and still be there for his daughters, SJ and Poppy.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
Jennie

I thought Floyd had killed Noelle too but I also thought he was Poppy's biological dad. I felt like he really loved Poppy and I'd like to ask him why he didn't leave well enough alone. But then we wouldn't have had a story😊 I get aggravated when there are story lines left dangling but the more I think about this entire story, and the way every tiny thing was addressed, it sort of aggravates me too. (as my husband says there's no pleasing me). I mean, Floyd leaving that detailed confession is a little unbelievable, even for fiction.

Absolutely agree with your last sentence.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
The author has posted some insights about writing this book.

https://www.goodreads.com/notes/32904...


message 9: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 1233 comments Mod
1. Then She Was Gone is, first and foremost, a mystery. Yet many questions are answered quite early on in the book. How soon did you guess what really happened to Ellie, and if you did, did it affect your enjoyment of the book?

I did figure it out early, no it didn't affect my enjoyment. Usually, it would but here it did not and I'm not sure why that was the case.

2. In the prologue, it says "Looking at it backward it was obvious all along." Now that you’ve finished the novel, do you agree? What "warning signs" referred to in the prologue might Ellie have spotted if she’d been more aware?

Noelle got too familiar with the personal questions, the gifts threw up red flags for me, and of course, Ellie going into her house without letting anyone know where she was going.

3. Did you think Lisa Jewell’s portrayal of Laurel and her journey was realistic? Could you relate to the way she dealt with her grief, or did you find it alienating?

Fortunately, I've never experienced what Laurel has (child missing, then found dead) but I know others who have and from the outside looking it this was familiar. I do find it alienating when a mother can not mother her other children... for whatever reason.

4. What was your impression of Poppy when she is first introduced? Did this change over the course of the book, and if so, how?

I was no crazy about her. No, this didn't change much although I understood why she was like she was as the story progressed.

5. Then She Was Gone is divided into six parts. Did it add to your reading of the book? Did it make the characters seem more defined? The storyline clearer? Did it make a difference at all?

It didn't make a difference for me at all, maybe I listened to an audiobook?

6. For much of the book, Laurel and her daughter, Hanna, have a tense relationship as Laurel fails to let go of unfavorable comparisons between Hanna and Ellie. Do you think it’s normal to have a favorite child? Does a child who is missing or who has died automatically become the favorite child?

Normal? What's that, lol. I have a favorite child, that doesn't mean I don't value or love the other ones just as much. I don't know but it seems that's what happens.

7. Throughout the novel, Laurel has moments in which she feels something is not quite right, but often writes it off as paranoia as a result of losing her daughter. Have you ever written off your own concerns? Are we taught it's impolite to make others feel like we're uncomfortable with them?

I have, yes absolutely and it always comes back to bit me in the backside. I go out of my way to make sure I don't make others uncomfortable, however, I've learned not to do so at my own expense.

8. At the end, did you believe or sympathize with Floyd?

I felt sorry for him up until the point that he was responsible for Noelle's death.

9. At the end of the book, Laurel notes that she "hasn’t told Poppy the full truth" (page 351) about everything that happened. Do you think she ever will? Would you?

While I wouldn't have necessarily told her everything (there is something to be said for age-appropriate information) I wouldn't have have told her things that were not ture.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
I agree with you about Poppy. Maybe I need to get out more but I've never known a child to act like her. It was just weird to me.

I got a strange vibe from Floyd from the beginning and thought he might have killed Noelle but I had no idea he wasn't Poppy's father.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 1426 comments Mod
If you enjoyed Then She Was gone by Lisa Jewell here is a list of her books in order of writing.

Ralph's Party
(1999)

Thirtynothing
(2000)

On-hit Wonder
(2001)

A Friend of the Family
(2003)

Vince and Joy
(2005)

31 Dream Street
(2007)

The Truth About Melody Browne
(2009)

After the Party
(2010)

The Making of Us
(2011)

Before I Met You
(2012)

The House We Grew Up In
(2012)

The Third Wife
(2012)

The Girls in the Garden

I Found You
(2016)

Then She Was Gone
(2017)

Watching You
(2018)


Donna Schmidt | 141 comments Yes! I enjoyed the parts! I too knew it was Noelle early on but not the “why”. Crazy woman! I like the gentle and good ending. Thanks for the list of more!!!


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