“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 the 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 are-run of the girl before.”
I devoured this book at every opportunity over very few days, it was a narrative I was constantly post it noting – tabbing subjects to follow up later; Christopher Wren’s St Stephens in Walbrook, John Sloane’s house in Lincoln Inn Fields, Phillippe Stark’s Ghost Chair. . . .
The narrative really pushes the boundaries of plausibility, it is a well written ( although not quite to the level of the best sellers within its genre; Gillian Flynn or Harlan Coben ) and compelling read. It will demand you finish it but it will not make you care one way or another about any of the characters within its pages.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative but the character development was sorely underwhelming. Written under a pseudonym in an attempt to disguise that the author is male writing with a female voice – one I don’t think he does a particularly good job of.
On the positive side the story is intriguing, the alternating narrators are an easy read but the suspense that is created is fairly transparent, there are too many simplistic red herrings for me.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this narrative, for me, was One Folgate Street itself. An ultra modern property that comes with about 200 stipulations within the rental agreement – compliance to the agreement is monitored by sensors, cameras, a cleaner and regular inspections. . . For as stylish and technologically sophisticated as all the tech is, it’s also fairly scary. Tales of woe like Orwell’s 1984 or Dave Eggers’ The Circle have taught that technology can be scary – It can be used against us. The Girl Before provides yet another cautionary tale about the technology that will make our lives easier.