The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer the ad, the consequences are devastating.
Set in London, The Girl Before offers an intriguing look at how one architect sets out to control who lives in an unusual house that he has designed, and what he will do to make sure his vision is realized.
But what kind of vision would require such obsessiveness? Can Emma Matthews, whose tenure at One Folgate Street came first in our story, find what she is looking for? How will living there alter her life, and change her relationship with Simon? What will Simon do after she decides she wants him out of her life?
In the present, Jane Cavendish is luxuriating in the opportunity to start over after the devastating loss of her infant daughter, just days before her birth. She hopes that the simple, minimalist lifestyle in this new residence will heal her wounds.
But as she becomes aware of some disturbing connections between her and the previous tenant, she will have to reexamine what she thought was best for her life.
The tale alternates between the two narrators, and it doesn’t take any time at all to realize that nothing good can come of this new lifestyle. Hovering overhead is a dark sense of foreboding, making it impossible to stop reading. But who was evil, in this tale, and who was simply misunderstood? How would Jane’s decision to find out about the tragedy Emma suffered change her own destiny?
Halfway through the pages, I had moments of confusion, as the stories told alternately by Emma and Jane were so similar that I had to check twice at the chapter headings to know whose voice I was reading. Soon everything seemed to right itself and I was immersed once again.
In the end, I was not completely surprised by the unveiling of the final secrets….but there was still an unexpected denouement. 4.5 stars.