@duffythewriter book review The Girl Before

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

We all know that rents in London, or in fact any major city are over the top and a struggle for most people.  So, if you were a young woman who had been through a traumatic time and was offered an iconic ultra-minimalist house which came with complicated lease and pages of ‘rules,’ but at ridiculously cheap rent, would you take it?

Emma (before) and Jane (after) did.   The strange, intriguing, attractive architect and owner of One Folgate, Edward Monkford, follows an ultra-minimalist life since the tragic deaths of his wife and child. He even keeps all his life’s possessions in one leather holdall. Monkford created the house, and now he seeks out the perfect tenants.  They must answer a lengthy questionnaire, follow pages and pages of rules and send in photographs of themselves. Only a chosen few are accepted, and not everyone lasts long in the house. Each chapter of the book flips between the girl’s stories; how they came to One Folgate Street and how the house consumes them both, breaking them into a minimalist lifestyle and shedding their past, when eventually their worlds collide.

What Did I Think?

I really enjoyed The Girl Before.  I was put off at first, there are too many books out there with ‘The Girl…..’ in the title.  When I posted on my blog that this was on my to-read list, a few comments appeared from other readers saying that they enjoyed it, so it peaked my interest and I gave it a go. Main characters Emma and Jane are level pegging when it comes to depth of character and the supporting characters are well rounded too. Surprisingly, one character ‘Jorgen,’ appears in one paragraph then simply disappears, which I thought was a real shame as he had potential to add to the building tension.  Overall though I felt I could have had a drink with any one of these characters, even the intimidating and intriguing Monkford. The chapters are short to build the suspense and pace, and on more than one occasion I found myself thinking ‘Whaaaat?!!!’ at the end of a chapter.  The twists come thick and fast as you race to the end of the book, and I didn’t guess what was coming at all.

The Girl Before has an original plot, and I finished this book wanting to understand more about a minimalist lifestyle. I’m a messy pup, so it may be a stretch for me, nonetheless it’s a curious concept and the idea that technology in a house can make you a better person is also an interesting one. Mood lighting, sensors to automatically give you the shower temperature you want, using a wristband to enter your house instead of a key, as well as metrics to measure your sleep, could this be the way all homes are built in the future?

The Girl Before Is Going To Be A Movie

The movie rights to this book have been snapped up by Ron Howard, and I look forward to the film! I just hope it isn’t ‘Americanised’ as The Girl On The Train was.  The London setting brings the right feel for this book.

If you enjoy Gillian Flynn books, YOU and Under The Harrow, you’ll love this one, share this post with any suspense loving bookworm!

4 out of 5 from me.  Buy it now at Booktopia $24.50

The Book Jacket

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.