Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.
Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Girl Before is being brought to the big screen by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.
The Girl Before was much talked about back in 2017 and was firmly on my must read list very early on. However, I made a huge mistake in deciding I would listen to it in audio format in the car. I just couldn’t get on with it at all! So when I was offered the chance to read as part of the paperback release blog tour I jumped at the chance to give it another go in written form. And I’m so glad I did, because this time I found it hugely addictive, unnerving and compelling.
It’s told in alternating chapters of Then from Emma and Now from Jane. Both women have recently suffered trauma and are looking to move home, putting their demons behind them. And both are sucked in by the amazing One Folgate Street, available to rent at a knock down rate, but with a whole host of bizarre rules and regulations to follow, not least a mysterious and cold landlord to deal with.
So Emma is The Girl Before and we hear her story at the same time as Jane sets out to unravel it. There’s a lot of parallels between the two women, including the controlling yet strangely seductive attentions of Edward Monkford – designer and owner of Folgate Street with his own demons from the past hanging around him.
I loved the switching narrative, which deftly paints one reality of the past before making small revelations to divert the reader, leaving them unsure what exactly is going on. I also loved the detail describing the bizarre, oppressive and cold house, making it almost a character itself.
I thought Jane was very well written, and I could feel her sense of loss and vulnerability. And equally, Edward Monkford’s power and controlling personality leapt from the page, filling me with unease and fear. I felt a little confused by Emma, but to say why would reveal too much about the plot. I just never fully understood her, although that may be entirely the point.
I was surprised how quickly I became fully engaged in this book and how much of a struggle I had to put it down, considering I’d tried several times with the audio book before giving up. This is not a hard hitting, action fuelled adrenaline rush of a book, rather a slow, controlled psychological brain twister – just like One Folgate Street and it’s master himself. A very good read, with some surprising twists, vivid characters and an originally bizarre plot line – I loved it!
One lucky winner has the chance to win a copy of The Girl Before courtesy of the publisher. Simply follow me on twitter @vicki_cosybooks and RT my pinned tweet