Book Review: The Girl Before

The Girl Before, by J. P. Delaney
Publication date: January 24, 2017

About the Book:

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

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.

EMMA
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.

JANE
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.

My Review

This story is told in alternating chapters. A chapter about Emma followed by a chapter for Jane and so on. They both lived at One Folgate Street, at different times, and had almost obsessive needs to reside in this “living” house. In order to live in the home, potential residents have to fill out questionnaires and submit to an interview with the architect, Edward Monkford to see if they can pass his “test.”

Once each woman moves in, their lives become increasingly dramatic. Unfortunately, for me, I did not enjoy the drama. It seemed immature, forced, and, incomplete (some scenes didn’t make much sense, leaving me with questions or a general feeling of confusion). Before I touch on that, I want to go back to when I called One Folgate Street a “living” house. I have to be careful not to type home instead of house, because this is not a home in my opinion and I don’t see how it could function as one for any person, other than Spock, who is technically a Vulcan. One Folgate is managed by Housekeeper (a computer/virtual housemanager/control center) who asks the women questions and if they do not answer the questions, certain parts of the house will shut down. The shower may only spray freezing cold water, or the stove will not turn on…time to check Housekeeper to see if there are new questions. There are also a litany of rules as to how the occupant is to treat the house, dos and don’ts, and check-ins with Edward Monkford, and gosh does he have ulterior motives. Edward chooses these women to live in his house for specific reasons that reveal themselves over the course of the book.

I felt confused by this book, creeped out, underwhelmed, and I wonder how they are going to make a movie out of this. So many things are strange and make zero to little sense. Edward’s behavior in unprofessional and bizarre, Emma’s and Jane’s behavior become erratic and their personalities seem to change for the worse the longer they are in the house. And the twists and turns. Oh, the twists and turns. There are almost too many. Too much is happening and I began to experience information overload. But while so many things were happening, the characters do not develop much. Everything and everyone, except the house, seems very one-dimensional. At times I found myself feeling embarrassed for the characters because of their behaviors.

I really wanted to love this book and the potential is there, it really is. The story did not develop completely for me and as I mentioned above, the character development was almost non-existent.

This could be a book you enjoy. I am sad to say I would not recommend this book with great fervor. Or with little fervor. Luckily this is only my humble opinion. Thank you for reading and if you like The Girl Before, please let me know your thoughts. 🙂

🍩🍩🍩 3 out of 5 doughnuts

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