Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

goneHere we have another good mystery and family drama by English author Lisa Jewell.  Sixteen year old Ellie Mack heads off to the library one day and simply disappears.  This is resolved in the book but I don’t want to give any spoilers.

Ellie’s mother Laurel Mack is consumed with looking for her daughter and, as happens in real life scenarios, the other children and her husband take a back seat and are somewhat neglected.  This isn’t the plot of the entire book but it sets up the character development.  You see/read why the relationships fracture.

Moving ahead roughly ten years Laurel meets a man named Floyd in a chance encounter in a coffee shop.  They start seeing each other (Ellie’s ex-husband is now happily remarried) and eventually she is invited to his home to meet his daughter Poppy.  The little girl is very grown up for a 9 year old,  her physical attributes reminding Laurel of her lost daughter.

As the supporting characters move in and out of the story you feel you know them.  You can feel the tension between Laurel and her oldest daughter, the slim tether of a bond with her son and his girlfriend, the absolute support of her ex husband and the growing relationship with Floyd as Laurel tries at a second chance for a happy life.

All is not as it seems and the mystery about Ellie’s disappearance, good intentions that went awry and revelations come in a big ending in this psychological drama.

There was some food mentioned here and there but the one that stuck out was a Jambalaya Laurel prepared for a dinner with Floyd.

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This was my fourth novel by Lisa Jewell.   Obviously I am besotted by her writing.   Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

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The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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This is the fourth novel by Lisa Jewell I have read and obviously I am now a true fan.  I love the way she weaves a story and makes you care about characters.  They come to life and I found myself invested in the outcomes, good or bad.  Didn’t matter if there were a few unlikable characters, I needed to see what would happen.  Let’s face it, you have to have a few villainous  characters or there wouldn’t be tension.

The house in question here is a lovely place in the Cotswolds, home of the Bird family.  Colin and Lorelei Bird have four children.  Megan, Bethann, Rory and Rhys.  We journey through their lives and the drama unfolds over the years.  We meet the children when they are small and by the end of the book they are middle aged.

This book addresses the mental illness of a hoarder and what it does to a family.  It was distressing to watch Lorelei at times; I felt such empathy for Megan and Bethann and developed a dislike of Megan’s partner Bill after a bit.  Rory was a product of his environment and Rhys….I won’t spoil that part because it’s integral to the way everyone’s lives play out.

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

 

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

foundThe setting is Ridinghouse Bay in northern England. We have multiple story lines overlapping which eventually merge. One story is about Alice Lake, single mother of three.

By her own admittance she isn’t a good mother. She sees a man sitting in the rain staring out to sea near her home and eventually walks up to him, gives him an old coat, a cup of hot tea and checks on him. The man is in a fugue state and can’t remember anything about his life, not his name or where he’s from. From other reviews I see some people didn’t like Alice and I can see some of their point of view. She’s a kind person and a loving person but she’s a bit too bohemian for motherhood. Giving this stranger a place to sleep in her guest “shed” is kindly yet you wonder is she putting her children at risk? Who is this guy? The loving exchanges with her children, feeding a troupe of her teenage son’s friends and taking in stray dogs….and people…..she is basically a very good person.

The second story line is set in 1993, over twenty years prior to the Alice Lake and the memory-lapse-guy story. The Ross family stays at Rabbit Cottage every year, located on Ridinghouse Bay. The two teenagers, Gray and Kristy, aren’t as enthused about going now that they are older. Typical teens, right? Enter a mysterious handsome 19 year-old who takes a rather creepy interest in 15 year-old Kristy. The parents don’t notice it but older brother Gray certainly does and feels very protective. This story ramps up quickly.

Last but not least we have a Ukraine bride named Lily, living in London with her English husband Carl Montose. They’ve only been married a few weeks and suddenly he is missing.  He flat out disappears and Lily discovers she knew nothing about his life. The police get involved as it’s a missing persons case and some startling facts are revealed about Carl Montose.  Could he be the memory impaired fellow staying in Alice’s shed? For what it’s worth, I did not care for Lily.  Too brusque.

What I especially liked were the mini cliffhangers. The end of the chapters had you wanting more but as you turn the page, you move on to one of the other stories. This is the third book I have read by Lisa Jewell and have become a fan. Of the three novels this was my least favorite but I did like it.   On hold at the library is Jewell’s book The House We Grew Up In and I am looking forward to that one.

There is a bit of food mentioned yet it’s not a foodie book by any means.  Cream teas, cucumber sandwiches, beet and horseradish tea sandwiches, roasted beef with root vegetables, sausages and mash, pizza, steak, bagels and peanut butter and cake.

Alice fed the throng of teen boys sausages and mash.  While that was tempting I went with a roasted chicken meal.  Alice roasted beef and root vegetables and I opted for poultry. Lovely meal to share over a glass of wine and lots of chatter.

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Original recipe post may be found HERE at Squirrel Head Manor.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

watchingThe beginning
A murder has taken place. There is a clear suspect based on evidence at the scene.  One of the things I loved is the author didn’t use a pronoun so you don’t know if the victim is male or female.  Not until near the very end!  There are alternating perspectives from several characters; these cloud the waters when you are formulating  theories about the interwoven scenarios.

This touches on so many issues from a school girl crush on a handsome teacher, a newly married couple who are at odds about having a baby, bullying, a mentally ill neighbor which you really feel for and a brilliant teenage boy who is expert at watching people and keeping detailed journals on activities. 

As a mystery/ thriller fan and reader I was pleased this wasn’t a slam dunk for me. Was I surprised about the ending? You betcha.

This is the second novel I have read by Lisa Jewell and it’s most certainly not the last. I enjoyed her latest book, The Family Upstairs, and certainly enjoyed this one.  Up next for me is Jewell’s novel I Found You

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.