The Girl Before
By JP Delaney
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.
The story was full of suspense from the beginning and made me want to keep reading to find out more about 1 Folgate Street and its occupants. 1 Folgate Street is an ultra-modern, minimalist home designed by architect Edward Monkton. For both Emma and Jane it is a refuge from recent events within their lives. However, this home is not for everyone as it comes with a certain number of non-negotiable conditions set by Mr Monkton.
I found the description of Jane's personal tragedy was dealt with in a sensitive and realistic manner. Jane has recently gone through the trauma of having to give birth to her baby girl who died three days earlier.
Jane is looking round flats when we, the reader, are introduced to her.
"I sigh. The flat we've just viewed, in a run-down mansion block off West End Lane is the only one in my price range. And I'd just about persuaded myself it was all right - ignoring the peeling wallpaper, the faint smell of someone else's cooking seeping up from the flat below, the poky bedroom and the mold spattered across the unventilated bathroom, until I'd heard a bell being run nearby, an old-fashioned hand bell, with the noise of children...a familiar pain tugged at my insides."
She loves the home from the beginning and likes the concept of 1 Folgate Street. As the story continues though Jane becomes increasingly obsessed with a girl who previously occupied the house: Emma. Jane knows that Emma died in mysterious circumstances but she doesn't know anything else.
The book begins with Emma and her partner Simon looking at a series of flats together, all of which Emma deems unacceptable for security reasons.
There's a one bed in Queen's Park, the agent says. A bit grotty but...We looked at it, Simon says. In the end we felt it was just a bit too close to that estate. His tone makes it clear that We means She.
"We've already given notice on our old place I hear Simon say. We're running out of options. He lowers his voice. Look mate, we were burgled. Five weeks ago. Two men broke in and threatened Emma with a knife. You can see why she'd be a bit jumpy."
This is when the agent asks if they have heard about 1 Folgate Street. "It's a fantastic property. Absolutely fantastic. In a different league to this. But the landlord...to say he is particular would be putting it mildly. "
1 Folgate Street is a
"low, small construction, a compact cube of pale stone. Notches running along the base of each wall give the impression they're floating in the air. And its empty. Not unfurnished - I can see a stone table in a room to one side, some designery-looking very cool dining chairs, a long, low sofa in a heavy cream fabric - but there's nothing else, nothing for the eye to catch on to. No doors, no cupboards, no pictures, no window frames, no electric sockets that I can see, no light fittings or - I look round, perplexed - even light switches. And although it doesn't feel abandoned or unlived in, there's absolutely no clutter."
The flat has a restrictive covenant on it so that nothing can be altered without agreement and there can be no rugs, carpets, books or anything that can be considered to be clutter. All rules must be adhered to at all time in order to remain living in the house.
When Emma is looking round the house she realises she has had no flashbacks or panic attacks since she has been in the house and she immediately knows she has to live there. Simon is less keen but agrees to go along with her.
Every potential resident has to participate in an interview with Edward Monkton in order to be accepted. Both women are charmed by Edward and want to get to know him better, is he is as charming as he seems?
I wanted to know more about the characters whilst I was reading it and I enjoyed the writing style, The reason I gave this book a 3.9 was that although I enjoyed it at the time it wasn't a 'wow' book but it was a decent read.
Our Final Rating...
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