Book: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
– audible audiobook edition, 10 hours & five minutes.
Synopsis: Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection… but can you pay the price?
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.
My thoughts: I’m a sucker for a good domestic thriller so when I saw this book recommended by a handful of people, I decided to pick it up and see what it was about. I got the audiobook (mostly because I have a handful of Audible credits that I need to use), and I was excited to see how it would play out in this format. Unfortunately, I think listening to the audio book rather than reading it myself was a big part of what let this down for me.
The concept is interesting enough, but I feel like there is a strong need for suspension of disbelief throughout the story. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind signing up for the scenario these women place themselves in, but maybe that’s just me. The book moves back and forth between the story of two women, Jane who is currently residing in the house, and Emma, the ‘girl before’. I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with stories that move between character perspective, and listening to audio that used similar voices for the two main characters was difficult for me. I had to stop listening to the book half-way through and start again just so I could follow the story properly.
I found nearly all of the characters unlikeable, even the ones we as the reader are supposed to sympathise with. I couldn’t help but picture Mr. Schue from Glee when the women were describing the ‘enigmatic architect’ throughout the book, which became very distracting and I found it hard to find this character attractive in any way. There were a couple of twists and turns throughout the story that did keep things interesting, but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying for me. If you are going to pick this up I would recommend picking up the hard copy of the book rather than the audio book.