Girl Before (Delaney)

The Girl Before 
J.P. Delaney, 2017
Random House
352 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780425285046


Summary
An enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

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.. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
The Girl Before is the first psychological thriller from JP Delaney, a pseudonym for a writer who has previously written bestselling fiction under other names. It is being published in thirty-five countries. A film version is being brought to the screen by Academy Award–winning director Ron Howard. (From the publisher.)



Book Reviews
The stars of The Girl Before are an architect, two women and a high-tech house so sadistic that it practically spanks them.... [The novel] generates a fast pace with frequent cuts between chapters labeled “Then: Emma” and “Now: Jane.” And it milks suspense from matching scenes in which Emma and Jane do exactly the same things with Edward, who consciously sets up these parallels. That’s the good news. The downside is the author’s clumsy trickery. No spoilers here, but the novel’s denouement is improbable enough to have flown in from outer space.
Janet Maslin - New York Tims


[A] riveting psychological thriller.... Writing with precision and grace, Delaney strips away the characters’ secrets until the raw truth of each is revealed. That Emma and Jane act in often foolhardy ways hasn’t prevented rights sales in...30 markets and movie rights to...Ron Howard.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review.) A masterfully crafted spellbinder...guaranteed to astonish.
Booklist


Little...can be said without destroying what little suspense Delaney has managed.... [I]t all seems so obvious. But wait—there's a twist!... [H]opelessly fake characters and...red herrings and reversals, 1 Folgate St. is a house...collapsing under the weight of its own materials.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. As you were reading, did you engage with the survey questions alongside Jane and Emma? How would your answers differ from theirs? Were there any questions in particular that stood out to you? Did you surprise yourself with any of your responses?

2. Emma and Jane have a lot in common, but there are also striking differences between the two women. Compare and contrast these two characters, and discuss some of the ways in which their differences and similarities influenced their relationships.

3. How does living at One Folgate Street impact each of the women? In what ways do our environments shape our experiences? If you could make one change to your current living environment that would have an impact on your behavior, what would it be?

4. Describe your personal style when it comes to home décor and architecture. How does that style shape or reflect your personality? Would you want to live in a minimalist space like One Folgate Street?

5. On page 235, Jane finds Edward’s discarded sketch—the pentimento image with two overlaid versions of her face. What did you make of that moment? What do you think the image meant to Edward?

6. Discuss Emma’s relationship with Saul. What do you think really happened there?

7. Could you forgive Jane’s deceptiveness, as revealed at the end of the novel? Were you surprised by her confession?

8. What do you think of Edward’s dream to create a community of homes like One Folgate Street? Could such a project ever really work successfully? Why or why not?

9. Which character did you relate to the most in this novel? Why?

10. Describe Simon’s relationship with each of the women.

11. Emma inspires passion and obsession in many of the men who fall into her orbit. What quality or qualities make her so compelling? Have you ever known someone like Emma?

12. Make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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