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Book Talk: J.P. Delaney, ‘The Girl Before’

Ordinarily, if a book doesn’t grab my attention in the first 10 pages, I set it aside and pick the next offering off my TBR stack. After several pages of J.P. Delaney’s “The Girl Before” (2017, 352 pages), I wondered if the story were ever going to move past descriptions of the house at One Folgate Street. However, I kept reading because I liked a previous novel by him (real name Tony Strong).


At page 60, I was finally on the verge of giving up when it appeared that something was about to happen. So, I kept reading. But even that was a little tedious because the story is narrated by two protagonists Emma (the girl who rented the house “before”) and Jane who supplanted her.


The house was the creation of Edward Monkford, a perfectionist, minimalist, and enigmatic character. And One Folgate Street is the “house of the future” that trains its residents to live according to Monkfort’s “200 or so” rules for tenants, including no pets, no children, no rugs, no wall hangings, no clothes left on the floor, and so on. There are no interior doors (kind of reminds me of the house that I designed for myself after my original house in Madera burned down) and — a feature that is important to the plot — an “open” staircase, a series of stone slabs sticking out from the wall.

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