As mentioned previously (check out my original post here), I am partaking in monthly buddy reads with two of my favourite Bookstagrammers- Chandra and Jessica. For our third read, we chose a highly anticipated January release, The Girl Before by JP Delaney and it’s out TODAY.
Keep reading below for a synopsis of the book and our thoughts.
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
WHAT CHANDRA THOUGHT
In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception. “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.
I loved The Girl Before! The different perspectives, timelines, and all the mystery surrounding the house of One Folgate Street. The story follows two women and their experiences with One Folgate Street. A house that was designed by an architect that believes in a minimalist lifestyle; living in this house comes with a vigorous application process and very strict rules.
Then: Emma is a woman who seeks a safe haven after her home is broken into and she is threatened. As she tries to find a new home, she quickly realizes that there aren’t any homes for rent that are safe enough or in her price range. Until she arrives at One Folgate Street. While the home itself is an architectural masterpiece, it comes with very strict rules, no books, no photos, no clutter, nothing on the floors. This space is meant to help transform the occupant – and it does.
Now: Jane needs a fresh start in her life. After a personal tragedy she begins searching for one, and finds it in One Folgate Street. Being instantly drawn to not only the space, but also the architect. After moving in, Jane quickly learns of the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a young woman of similar 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.
JP Delaney does an incredible job weaving the stories together. The book is alternating between perspectives and timelines (Emma’s and Jane’s), which makes for fast-paced reading and short chapters. I love having to guess. Throughout the book I had different guesses and I had to keep changing my mind until the end!
I had some mixed feelings about this one, as I mentioned in my full blog post here!
WHAT I LIKED:
The Narration: the novel is narrated with alternating viewpoints from tenants at One Folgate Street: Jane, the present tenant and from Emma, the woman who lived there previously. This technique kept me glued to this book. The segmented chapters are short and sweet and use the right amount of hook to carry the story along. As the women’s experiences begin to mirror each other, things become creepy really quickly.
Throwback to Gothic Literature: Fun Fact. I have always been a fan of classic gothic fiction and this novel certainly resonates with this genre. From the massive, sterile house to our female protagonists threatened by a powerful, tyrannical male, this one had moments where it read like Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. I really liked how this one gave a modern twist on the gothic novel and combined it with the domestic thriller genre that has swept 2016 by storm.
What I Didn’t Like:
Kind of gave me a Fifty Shades of Grey vibe: Edward Monkford was Christian Grey to me. The novel had moments where sexual domination took the lead and the actual story took the backburner. I have a very hard time taking a book seriously when the character, which is supposed to be the antagonist, is consistently referred to as “Daddy”. I feel like I would have enjoyed the book much more if this part of the book had taken on a smaller role.
Regardless of my feelings about that portion of the book, I cannot deny that this one kept me up, late into the night, to finish. I was consumed by the plot and need to find out what happened. It already has the movie rights sold so I will be intrigued to see how this will play out on the big screen.
If you are a fan of a dark, twisting thriller, then I would recommend this book. However, if you hated, like really HATED, the idea of Fifty Shades of Grey, then chances are, you will not appreciate this one either! I gave this one 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
Huge thank you to to the publishers, J.P. Delaney and NetGalley for these advanced copies in return for our honest reviews.
Well, there ya have it! Our third buddy read was a success and the start of quite the discussion! Please feel free to jump in and join us at any time! And if you read this book, let us know what you think!