The Girl Before – JP Delaney


Publisher: Random House Audio

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Listening Length: 9 hours and 59 minutes

From the Jacket:

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.

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.

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.

Unpopular opinion time. I absolutely loathed this book. I hate finished it just because I thought surely, at some point with all of the rave reviews I read, it would get better.

Spoiler alert: It did not get any better.

There were only two redeeming factors for me. The first, was listening to the audio version. Emilia Fox and Finty Williams do a lovely job narrating this terrible content. The second, was doing a buddy read with my wife. She had print and I had audio, and we must be soulmates because we equally abhorred it. I’m going to go into detail about my issues with this book below, so this post will be spoiler central. You’ve been warned.

I went into this book thinking that it would be a psychological thriller about a super intelligent house that interferes with the lives of the women who live there. Turns out its actually about a moderately smart house with outdated technology, the wealthy sociopath who designed it, and the women who (completely inexplicably) fall for him. This book was rated highly by multiple sources that I have a lot of respect for. It was compared with The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl. This book is like none of those books at all.

Let’s start with the way that every women in the book falls all over herself when they lay eyes on Edward. They all comment on how incredibly handsome he is. Really? I won’t get into all of the reasons why it is incredibly unrealistic that every single woman would be attracted to this guy, but I do feel like its worth noting. First impressions aside, he’s also completely weird, controlling, judgmental, and all around awful. Delaney describes the intense chemistry between Jane/Edward and Emma/Edward without providing any believable details. Saying someone has the best sex of their life is not the same as writing believable sex scenes.

I also almost lost my eyes to the back of my head due to the eye rolling that happened while I was reading the details of Jane’s pregnancies. It’s like Delaney went to a pregnancy forum, took all of the details there, and made them all into hyperbole. For someone who has never been pregnant or been close to someone that has been pregnant, this may not be an issue at all. For me, it was a constant source of annoyance that detracted even more from the plot. I read an interview with the author about his use of a pseudonym for this book. He talks about one of the reasons he liked it is because it makes the gender of the author ambiguous and he had a number of women tell him that they thought a woman wrote the book. NO. Just, no.

One of the worst things about this book, other than the cheesy dialogue and terrible sex scenes, are all of the smoking guns. Delany creates a whole table full of smoking guns, and then WALKS AWAY FROM THE TABLE. There’s a reason that everyone is so shocked that Simon is actually the murderer. It’s because it is completely outside of his character! That doesn’t make this a good story. It makes it an example of terrible writing.

And what about Edward and all of his crazy trying to recreate the relationship with Jane that he had with Emma? We never touch on that again, except in the very last paragraph where the reader is led to believe that more women would continue to move into this house and fall for this bag of cats. I wondered on more than one occasion while reading, if the author just hates women and/or just considers them all incredibly stupid.

Deep breaths.

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Final Thoughts: If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I basically NEVER write negative reviews. But in this case, I felt like I must. I truly do not understand the hype. If you want a good psychological thriller, read all of the other books this one is compared to, and skip this one. Who else has read this? Did you love it or hate it? I’d love to hear your thoughts here.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.25.30 AM

Favorite Characters: None

Memorable Quotes: There were several memorably bad quotes, but I did not make note of them.