“The Girl Before” by J.P. Delaney
320 pages, Ballantine Books
Expected publication date: Jan. 24, 2017
Two women, each looking for a fresh start.
One house, striking in its design.
One architect, relentlessly committed to a rule-driven way of life.
“You can make your surroundings as polished and empty as you like. But it doesn’t really matter if you’re still messed up inside. And that’s all anyone’s looking for really, isn’t it? Someone to take care of the mess inside our heads?”
I experienced a range of feelings about this book as I was reading it. I was, by turns, skeptical, riveted, repulsed, bored, shocked, etc.
No doubt, the question everyone who reads this book will ask themselves is, “Could I live at One Folgate Street?” Anyone who knows me well enough can probably answer that – NO. Of course, I doubt I’d even have a shot, considering the bizarre application process all prospective tenants must undergo.
Part of me did not want to finish this book – Edward, the architect and owner of One Folgate Street, is an extremely unsettling and unlikeable character – but I just had to know how this nightmare was going to end. The closer I got to the conclusion, the more obvious it became to me how Emma – “the girl before” (or one of them, anyway) – had died. Had it been more clear from the onset, I suppose I might have wound up skipping to the end to confirm my suspicions.
I like the way the story unfolds, narrated from the alternating perspectives of Emma and Jane, the current tenant. This book is an interesting study in relationships (mostly relationships at their worst), instincts and personalities.
Since everyone wants to try to compare it to “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train,” here’s my take. I have yet to read another book that tops “Gone Girl,” so nice try. On the other hand, “The Girl Before” is far more intelligent and original than “The Girl on the Train.” Just thought I’d put that out there.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.
Vague author bio courtesy of Goodreads