THE GIRL BEFORE
By JP Delaney
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
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.
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“Imagine a hospital where the structure itself becomes part of the healing process, or a home for dementia sufferers that actually helps them to remember. This house might be simple, but it’s ambition is extraordinary.”
A fantastic psychological thriller that I could not put down!! Would you be willing to give up almost all of your worldly possessions for a chance live in a stunning home for very little rent? That is the fascinating premise of this book by JP Delaney, a pseudonym for a well-known writer. I read that the author did not want to reveal his/her gender because the book is told from a female point of view. I did not know this when I first read a sample, and the author succeeded in making me feel as though I was inside the narrators’ minds.
The brilliant architect Edward Monkford has designed One Folgate Street in London, a high-tech house with cutting edge design. Edward is a follower of minimalism to the extreme, so much so that the tenants must agree to abide by his extreme de-cluttering rules and regulations. But he sees his rules as so much more than control and firmly believes that a house really can change you from within. If you have to de-clutter your life, then you will begin to see what is truly important in life, and you will free your mind to become a better person.
Emma and Jane are both looking for a fresh start. They are required to fill out a stringent and lengthy application in order to pass on to the final level of approval, which is a very brief meeting with the owner and designer of One Folgate Street. The rent is low and the house is located in a beautiful and quiet neighborhood.
Edward is difficult, mysterious, brilliant, moody…but the chance to live in the magnificent home is so tempting, the women overlook all of this in order for a chance to live at One Folgate Street. The home is equipped with the latest high-tech gadgets, and the tenants must answer periodic questionnaires in order to continue living in the house. The evaluations test their ethics, their physical well-being and their state of mind and are quite literally crucial to continues living in the house.
“That’s all anyone’s looking for really, isn’t it? Someone to take care of the mess inside our heads?”
The descriptions of the home are absolutely enthralling. I am still thinking about this book weeks after finishing! The idea of extreme de-cluttering is very thought-provoking and is woven inextricably into this intriguing story. Is Edward as dangerous and unhinged as everyone seems to think he is? This is a classic tale where NOTHING is as it seems. I literally read this book over the course of 2 days and was shocked by the surprising conclusion.
The story is told from the point of view of Emma, who is seeking a safe neighborhood and a secure home after a recent break-in, and Jane, who has suffered a tragic loss and is seeking a new beginning. Their stories converge in a creative way and I loved how the author kept me guessing until the very last page. The house literally plays a central role in this book and to me is one of the main characters in this story. If you are looking for a thrilling read that will challenge you and your boundaries, then “The Girl Before’ is for you!! I LOVED it and highly recommend it for all fans of domestic thrillers.
(Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.)