I really wanted to read this novel, especially with all the hype surrounding it, but at £6.99 was a little rich for my blood (I’ll only push the boat out that far for an ebook from my very favourite authors. As I’d never read a novel by JP Delaney before, I didn’t want to take the risk.
But then a BookBub email came into my inbox. Excellent! It had been reduced to 99p. I grabbed it (and told a bunch of my friends to grab it too), before it went up in price.
And of course, it shot straight to the top of my TBR pile.
The novel is told in a THEN and NOW style. Then, is about Emma, a young woman who has met an untimely death and Now, following Jane, a woman who rents the same house Emma lived in three years before.
The house has very strict rules, applied by the architect and owner, Edward Monkford. As the story progresses, Jane becomes obsessed with the house and its secrets as her past becomes intertwined with Emma’s.
I finished The Girl Before a few days ago but left it until now to write my review, because I wanted to reflect. It didn’t blow me away, as I’d expected. I found the storytelling from Emma’s perspective a little strange, especially as the author chose not to use quotation marks for speech, making it hard to follow when someone was actually speaking versus having internal dialogue. I know why the author did it—to differentiate between the voices of the two women, especially as there does end up being some repetition—but all the same, I didn’t get on with that style.
There are some good twists and turns, and I loved the vivid description of the house which is central to the story, but I was looking for more punch, more tension, more drama, and I’m afraid The Girl Before didn’t deliver on the hype surrounding it. This is something I’m finding more and more. Certain books seem to attract huge attention (I’m thinking Girl on the Train and Gone Girl here), and yet don’t quite deliver on the promises that hype makes. I began to wonder if the term ‘Girl’ was the problem (joke), but having read Robert Bryndza’s The Girl in the Ice, which is a superb novel, I know that not to be true.
The book is being made into a movie, directed by Ron Howard, who is superb, and thinking about how the story unfolds, I think this is one of those that may translate better to screen than reading the written word.