January 24, 2017
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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.
Early on in the story, one of the characters muses, "Who wouldn't want to live in a house like this?" in regards to One Folgate Street. The story's barely started but already I knew that I wouldn't . . . and yet, I could understand why both Jane and Emma found the home, even with its myriad of eccentric rules, appealing.
Each woman has been though something very painful and the drastic changes that living at One Folgate Street would require make a certain kind of sense for them and their lives. It is also a great setting and setup for the story.
I especially liked that, once we get into the story, we seem to get pieces of Jane's story before what could be considered the corresponding or parallel bits of Emma's story. Learning the story though our 'now' character before our 'then' character really engenders different feelings in the reader for each character than the expected 'then' and 'now' order.
This was a book full of surprises and then a few more surprises. Some of them you might have started to see coming, but others really were unexpected. Somehow, though, they don't cancel each other out and really build on the mystery and tension.
I do want to note that there was more of a sexual element to the story than I was anticipating and which normally would have turned me away from the book. (It was a bit Fifty Shades-ish at times.) The reason I mention it, however, is that it really seemed to work here. It plays a definite part of who our characters are and how the story and their relationships (or interactions) develop. So, it was necessary.
The Girl Before is a twisty, dark and thrilling read (and that ending? I see what you did there - and I love it) and I know I"ll paying attention for more from author J.P. Delaney in the future.
digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley