Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewel - On a Book Discussion


This book was voted by the book club members to be read and discussed, for the month of September. And the one and half hour-long session was yesterday, on 20th September. We based our discussions on the questions already provided at the end of the book by the publisher as cues for facilitating such conversations around the book. It was the first of its kind that I attended. I had always wanted to take part in such a discussion- a dedicated book club activity- where book lovers sat around, sipped coffee at a café, and analyzed the length and breadth of the subjects and themes in it, providing their unique perspectives to it- a wholesome experience to any reader.

Aniesha Brahma, a blogger and an author, had organized such events with Bee books, and scrolling through their photos in social media I had always wanted to be a part of it. Sadly, it was organized in Kolkata, in a Café and I was in Bhubaneswar or Hyderabad or Dehradun. Yesterday I got the chance, as this one was being conducted online by author and reader Nikita Singh and her friend Hina. It was an insightful session, many providing their two cents on a topic related to the book. May be their doing English honors, Masters at that, enabled them to analyze the nuances of the characters so well. Also, first and foremost, one needs to be an empath to be able to appreciate the flawed intricacies in the protagonists and their relationships with the other characters.

(Might be spoilers ahead)

One of the major points of discussion was how early we readers were able to guess the twist, or what had actually happened to Ellie. If you have read the book, the signs were everywhere. I had guessed it quite early on, almost immediately after Poppy is introduced as Floyd’s daughter, that quite early in the book – third or fourth chapter, if I’m not wrong. Maybe I am too acquainted with the way thrillers are written, courtesy of reader too many of them, that nothing really remains a surprise. But that didn’t affect my experience of reading it. I knew that Poppy was Ellie’s daughter but how it had happened was totally outrageous sequence of events. I had guessed perhaps Floyd himself had abducted her, but no, that wasn’t the case. Most importantly, it is more of a relationship’s drama than a thriller for me, which by the way I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Few parts in the plot seemed to have loopholes, and some were bizarre, but we have seen these things occur in news, so nothings impossible. Like how come the investigation was so flawed, and how Hanna hadn’t mentioned about the sister’s weird tutor to anyone.

We discussed the flawed characters in the book. Laurel being the mother who just becomes so paranoid with finding Ellie, that she ends up almost ignoring her other daughter Hanna, while her husband, with whom she has parted ways is not much concerned about finding Ellie after so many years. We argued upon how every person deals with grief in a different way, that moving on for one parent is comparatively easier than the other, how it was common to have a favorite child subconsciously, and sadly the other suffered over the years. And how being the imperfect mother that Laurel was, made her a memorable character in a memorable story. We discussed our first impressions of Poppy -  a cloistered child who has had no friends of her own age and lived with her father for so many years, without even having contact with their relatives, how she behaves so much like an adult, that it’s almost unreal. We discussed Floyd obsessive control of Poppy, and love towards Laurel; Noelle’s horrible mental state and the absurdity of the unimaginable crime that she committed. We discussed how this ending for Ellie was so much better than the alternative ending where she would have lived in the basement, surviving the trauma. Getting on with life after that ordeal would have been so much difficult, as is with victims of prolonged captivity.

Parts of the narration was very creepy and dark and so unsettling for me; I can’t get over it. Over the discussions there was a suggestion to watch the movie Room, an Oscar winning one, on similar storyline.

All in all, it was an amazing session. I am already looking forward to the next list of books, vote for my fav, read the decided one, and participate in the discussion again in October.


Comments

  1. It is now in my 'To Read' list. I really want to know more about the group. I always want to be a part of a book discussion group too.

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    1. You can check it out here (https://www.instagram.com/nikitasbookshelf/)

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  2. What a lovely activity. I always find myself wanting to but unable to participate in bookish discussions. Must have been quite a fun online session. I love trying to guess the twists and turns and I think that's part of the fun of reading a thriller.

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    Replies
    1. True, that's the reason I love thrillers too!

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  3. What happened was predictable but how it happened and what happens with Ellie during the last time was so heartbreaking.

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    Replies
    1. True! Almost unbelievable. And the trajectory of the growth of each of the characters through the years, was really touching.

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  4. I have always wanted to be part of a book club where one could discuss a book threadbare 😀 Sounds like a fun activity.

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My Last Trip Before Lockdown

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When Covid19 had just put its foot in the country with only 3 cases in Kerala, we had our Ooty trip planned. All tickets and bookings were done since the new year. With just three days in hand, four of us travelled from Mumbai, Pune and Bhubaneswar, to Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, to join a few others staying in the city. And the excitement to finally meet one another after 6 months of that trip to Pune, the Lohagard Trek- we were kids excitedly clicking selfies in our face masks, hurriedly putting a quick dab of sanitizer before hugging one another.


Next day early morning we were to start for Ooty. Sleepy heads, gulping a bowl each of muesli, we started onward journey to Bandipur National Park. Devouring uttapams, dosas and piping hot cups of coffee for breakfast at a restaurant by the highway, chit chats were full on, as was the music and dance in the 12-seater vehicle. Funny anecdotes had us laughing our hearts out, gossips were such a thrill and cooking recipe exch…

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