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 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 a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.
Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Girl Before is being brought to the big screen by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.
I downloaded a free sample of the first few chapters of this book, courtesy of Net Galley, and was intrigued enough by the beginning to purchase the whole book. I was disappointed.
I’m not a fan of the whole ‘Fifty Shades’ idea that women fall into bed with sadistic, controlling and creepy men just because they’re rich. Edward, the architect who designed and controls One Fogle Street, is a really nasty piece of work, and someone that any sane woman would run a mile from. And yet both of the women who agree, for some unfathomable reason, to live in his house, despite the invasive and ridiculous conditions of their tenancy, embark on an affair with him instead. And while Emma’s involvement with him is perhaps the more believable storyline, when the truth is revealed about her story, that is hugely disappointing too. While Jane has suffered the trauma of a stillbirth, and while I do appreciate that that can be a life-changing event, with far-reaching emotional consequences, I didn’t see why it would lead to this intelligent, successful woman becoming totally manipulated by this man because he’s handsome and a bit mysterious. And rich. Of course. Because that’s what all women want, isn’t it?
It’s a shame because the writing, on the whole, is good. There are some scenes that are so disturbing and evocative that they really stay with you. The plot is well -paced, and there is a good idea at the heart of this. But it is sorely let down by the portrayal of both the men and women – the men are all cruel, or slimy, or weird. And the women are unbelievable.
I’m sorry to give such a negative review, and I usually don’t post anything under three stars on my blog, but I was so disappointed in this.
And here’s my favourite addition to the 50 Shades phenomenon: