Book Title: The Girl Before
Author: JP Delaney
Reviewed By: Mary
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Fiction
Date Read: 02/28/17
Pub Date: 01/24/17
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.
I am certain it was no coincidence that while reading this book I began an early spring-cleaning of my house. I had a sudden urge to rid myself of clutter. How many pairs of jeans do I really NEED? Why in the world do I have 5 different deodorant sticks? Have the kids even played with half the toys in this basement in the past year? How did I come to own 4 hairbrushes? Are they even all mine? I don’t remember that one….eeewwwww!
These were the questions I found myself asking when I began to read. The setting of THE GIRL BEFORE is that of One Folgate Street, a beautiful marble house with an innovative technological recognition system that is specified to the tenant and their preferences to lighting, water temperature and security settings among other things, making it a sort of fortress, inducing feelings of safety and serenity as though the tenant has a connection with the house itself.
The house was designed in a minimalist mindset, no colorful throw blankets, no rugs, artwork is deemed unnecessary, as the house itself is a work of art. The open floor plan and lack of doors leaves no nook or cranny in which to toss dirty laundry. A few of the many rules of the lease state that nothing may be left on the floor, shoes may not be warn in the house, outside furniture is prohibited, the tenant must make due with what the house provides in order to learn to live a more efficient, simplistic lifestyle. The idea being, by reducing the clutter that surrounds you, you thereby reduce your stress level.
I was intrigued. I, clean freak extraordinaire, found logic in this theory. I soon read (no spoilers here, I promise) the part of the contract that cured me of this intrigue. Among the many caveats to living at One Folgate Street, there are no children allowed. Well, my plans for a simplistic life style got flushed right down the toilet. I realized right then that my life will be a clutter filled, hectic car pool for the foreseeable future. So, I kept my jeans, and decided that de-cluttering the wine rack was far more realistic. I opened a bottle of red and kept reading…I never stopped.
The writing style of THE GIRL BEFORE lends itself to a quick read, with short chapters that jump back and forth between Emma’s storyline in the past and Jane’s in the present. This popular back and forth format works well for this book in which two women are in the same space, facing the same haunting discoveries, years apart. The reader is able to see history eerily repeat itself as the past and the present unfold simultaneously. Each chapter is packed with emotional reveals; plot twists and a slow building suspense.
As the past gets more tangled with the present, the characters continue to reveal layer after layer of their personalities, their lives, their flaws and their fears. When those fears become reality, the suspense that has been slowly building throughout the book, becomes palpable straight through to the twisty, satisfying end. As the story progresses for each of the women, I found myself spinning with theories only to be shocked by more secrets and thrown from what I was sure were accurate suspicions. I LOVE a book that keeps me guessing and THE GIRL BEFORE certainly did just that.
I truly enjoyed THE GIRL BEFORE, from the character development, to the moral questions it posed, as well as the special attention that was paid to the setting, allowing One Folgate Street to become a character in and of itself, all of which fed the suspense as the story unfolded. I will certainly be recommending THE GIRL BEFORE. It’s a fast, intriguing read that pairs well with a bottle of red zin…or whichever red YOU have more than one of on your wine rack. It’s a great way to reduce the clutter; you’ll feel the stress melt away as you do. 🙂
*Many thanks to Random House/Ballantine Books for my copy; it was a pleasure to provide an honest review.