BOOK REVIEW | The Girl Before by JP Delaney

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3/5 stars

From the publisher: 
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.

EMMA
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.

JANE
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.

My thoughts:
I’m in the minority here, but I didn’t love this book. It is very fast paced and kept me flipping the pages, but there was too much crazy for this to work for me.

Jane, mourning the stillbirth of her daughter, is looking for a fresh start and a new place to live. She steps into the house at One Folgate Street and is immediately taken back by its minimalist beauty. This house is truly special, and the rent fits her tight budget. The house, however, comes with stipulations. The architect, Edward, has compiled a lengthy list of rules you must comply with to live there – everything from no flat pack furniture to no books (?!?!). After the interview process, Jane learns that her application has been accepted and she can move into the house immediately. Before long, Jane starts to have questions about Emma and Simon, the previous tenants.

It’s no surprise that both Jane and Emma have relationships with Edward, and this is where my struggle begins – the women behave recklessly and allow themselves to be vulnerable, all the while ignoring blazing red flags. Additionally, the big twist wasn’t really a big twist at all. Multiple reviewers have described this book as 50 Shades of Grey mixed with Gone Girl, and I have to agree – there’s plenty of sexual domination and mind games in this one.

This is a fast paced thrilled, and I’ll admit that I couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a quick and fun read and can put aside reality to immerse yourself in this world, then go for it! If you prefer a more complex thriller, give this a pass.

The 2016 Man Booker Shortlist

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The 2016 Man Booker shortlist has been announced!

I am excited to see two Canadian authors on this list (Madeline Thien and David Szalay, who is Canadian born), as well as a nice cross section of diversity. I’m surprised that The North Water didn’t make the shortlist, but I am very much looking forward to reading the 4 that I haven’t yet picked up. I will likely read His Bloody Project next, and may try out The Sellout on audio (I tried to read this a few months ago, but just couldn’t get into it).

Check out my review of Eileen 
Check out my review of Hot Milk 

Amazon links:
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
All That Man Is by David Szalay
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien

What book are you most excited about? Any predictions for the winner?