The Girl Before

The Girl Before

by JP Delaney

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, and Gone Girl comes 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.

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.

Praise for The Girl Before

“Dazzling, startling, and above all cunning—a pitch-perfect novel of psychological suspense.”—Lee Child

The Girl Before generates a fast pace. . . . [J. P.] Delaney intersperses ethics questions on stand-alone pages throughout the book. . . . The single most ingenious touch is that we’re not provided either woman’s answers.”—The New York Times

“J. P. Delaney builds the suspense.”Vanity Fair

“Immediate guarantee: You will not be able to put this book down. . . . Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will realize that there’s not only more where that came from, but it’s also more thrilling.”American Booksellers Association

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425285053
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/24/2017
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 8,174
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before and Believe Me, JP Delaney has previously written bestselling fiction under other names.

Read an Excerpt

1. Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

Then: Emma

It’s a lovely little flat, the agent says with what could almost pass for genuine enthusiasm. Close to the amenities. And there’s that private bit of roof. That could become a sun terrace, subject of course to the landlord’s consent.

Nice, Simon agrees, trying not to catch my eye. I’d known the flat was no good as soon as I walked in and saw that six-­foot stretch of roof below one of the windows. Si knows it too but he doesn’t want to tell the agent, or at least not so soon it’ll seem rude. He might even hope that if I listen to the man’s stupid patter long enough I’ll waver. The agent’s Simon’s kind of guy: sharp, brash, eager. He probably reads the magazine Simon works for. They were exchanging sports chat before we even got up the stairs.

And here you have a decent-­sized bedroom, the agent’s saying. With ample—­

It’s no good, I interrupt, cutting short the charade. It’s not right for us.

The agent raises his eyebrows. You can’t be too choosy in this market, he says. This’ll be gone by tonight. Five viewings today, and it’s not even on our website yet.

It’s not secure enough, I say flatly. Shall we go?

There are locks on all the windows, he points out, plus a Chubb on the door. Of course, you could install a burglar alarm, if security’s a particular concern. I don’t think the landlord would have any objection.

He’s talking across me now, to Simon. Particular concern. He might as well have said, Oh, is the girlfriend a bit of a drama queen?

I’ll wait outside, I say, turning to leave.

Realizing he’s blundered, the agent adds, If it’s the area that’s the problem, perhaps you should have a look farther west.

We already have, Simon says. It’s all out of our budget. Apart from the ones the size of a tea bag.

He’s trying to keep the frustration out of his voice, but the fact that he needs to riles me even more.

There’s a one-­bedroom in Queen’s Park, the agent says. A bit grotty, but . . .

We looked at it, Simon says. In the end we felt it was just a bit too close to that estate. His tone makes it clear that we means “she.”

Or there’s a third-­floor just come on in Kilburn—­

That too. There was a drainpipe next to one of the windows.

The agent looks puzzled.

Someone could have climbed it, Simon explains.

Right. Well, the rental season’s only just started. Perhaps if you wait a bit.

The agent has clearly decided we’re time-­wasters: He too is sidling toward the door. I go and stand outside, on the landing, so he won’t come near me.

We’ve already given notice on our old place, I hear Simon say. We’re running out of options. He lowers his voice. Look, mate, we were burgled. Five weeks ago. Two men broke in and threatened Emma with a knife. You can see why she’d be a bit jumpy.

Oh, the agent says. Shit. If someone did that to my girlfriend I don’t know what I’d do. Look, this might be a long shot, but . . . His voice trails off.

Yes? Simon says.

Has anyone at the office mentioned One Folgate Street to you?

I don’t think so. Has it just come on?

Not exactly, no.

The agent seems unsure whether to pursue this or not.

But it’s available? Simon persists.

Technically, yes, the agent says. And it’s a fantastic property. Absolutely fantastic. In a different league from this. But the landlord’s . . . to say he’s particular would be putting it mildly.

What area? Simon asks.

Hampstead, the agent says. Well, more like Hendon. But it’s really quiet.

Em? Simon calls.

I go back inside. We might as well take a look, I say. We’re halfway there now.

The agent nods. I’ll stop by the office, he says, see if I can locate the details. It’s been a while since I showed anyone around, actually. It’s not a place that would suit just anyone. But I think it might be right up your street. Sorry, no pun intended.

Now: Jane

“That’s the last one.” The agent, whose name is Camilla, drums her fingers on the steering wheel of her Smart car. “So really, it’s time to make up our minds.”

I sigh. The flat we’ve just viewed, in a run-­down mansion block off West End Lane, is the only one in my price range. And I’d just about persuaded myself it was all right—­ignoring the peeling wallpaper, the faint smell of someone else’s cooking seeping up from the flat below, the poky bedroom and the mold spattered across the unventilated bathroom—­until I’d heard a bell being rung nearby, an old-­fashioned hand bell, and the place was suddenly filled with the noise of children. Going to the window, I found myself looking down at a school. I could see into a room being used by a toddler group, the windows hung with cutouts of paper bunnies and geese. Pain tugged at my insides.

“I think I’ll pass on this one,” I managed to say.

“Really?” Camilla seemed surprised. “Is it the school? The previous tenants said they rather liked the sound of children playing.”

“Though not so much they decided to stay.” I turned away. “Shall we go?”

Now Camilla leaves a long, tactical silence as she drives us back to her office. Eventually she says, “If nothing we saw today took your fancy, we might have to think about upping your budget.”

“Unfortunately, my budget can’t budge,” I say drily, looking out the window.

“Then you might have to be a bit less picky,” she says tartly.

“About that last one. There are . . . personal reasons why I can’t live next to a school. Not right now.”

I see her eyes going to my stomach, still a little flabby from my pregnancy, and her eyes widen as she makes the connection. “Oh,” she says. Camilla isn’t quite as dim as she looks, for which I’m grateful. She doesn’t need me to spell it out.

Instead, she seems to come to a decision.

“Look, there is one other place. We’re not really meant to show it without the owner’s express permission, but occasionally we do anyway. It freaks some people out, but personally I think it’s amazing.”

“An amazing property on my budget? We’re not talking about a houseboat, are we?”

“God, no. Almost the opposite. A modern building in Hendon. A whole house—­only one bedroom, but loads of space. The owner is the architect. He’s actually really famous. Do you ever buy clothes at Wanderer?”

“Wanderer . . .” In my previous life, when I had money and a proper, well-­paid job, I did sometimes go into the Wanderer shop on Bond Street, a terrifyingly minimalist space where a handful of eye-­wateringly expensive dresses were laid out on thick stone slabs like sacrificial virgins, and the sales assistants all dressed in black kimonos. “Occasionally. Why?”

“The Monkford Partnership designs all their stores. He’s what they call a techno-­minimalist or something. Lots of hidden gadgetry, but otherwise everything’s completely bare.” She shoots me a look. “I should warn you, some people find his style a bit . . . austere.”

“I can cope with that.”

“And . . .”

“Yes?” I prompt, when she doesn’t go on.

“It’s not a straightforward landlord–­tenant agreement,” she says hesitantly.


“I think,” she says, flicking down her indicator and moving into the left-­hand lane, “we should take a look at the property first, see if you fall in love with it. Then I’ll explain the drawbacks.”

Reading Group Guide

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.

Customer Reviews

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The Girl Before 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much! It was different and I loved how it ended. I would recommend it to people if you are looking for a suspenseful, unexpected, and unique read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first I couldn't put down the book, but as another reader remarked, it started to lag, and the author seemed to lose steam. The ending was definitely strange. Well, actually the story itself was disturbing...I will never again look at a rental property in the same way!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book I read in one day! It's creepy,scary as in you can picture yourself being in these situations. Loved it! Excellent thriller, kept me guessing throughout the whole book! Definately a must must read if you like this type of book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was great and kept me on my toes. I could not but the book down. It was a little confusing end but would overall recdommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am undecided if I really like this book. There were so many twists and turns with the characters. Midway through the book I am became very bored. The jumping between the characters Emma and Jane was distracting. I felt the ending was thrown together by the author as if he lost sight of a good ending. As I said before, confusing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Avoid this book if you are a sensitive animal lover, some portions are Very graphic and don't really need to be there, Would not read again, will not see the movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Girl Before ....... I couldn't put this book down. I loved the way the suspense was created by the protagonists, Emma and Jane,alternating from the past and the present. Tony Strong has a captivating writing style . I can't wait for the next new book!
teachlz More than 1 year ago
I want to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine for the ARC of “The Girl Before” by JP Delaney. I was intrigued by the plot and various twists of this terrifying psychological thriller. JP Delaney uses the concepts of perfection, flaws, instability, strengths and weaknesses as part of her characters descriptions. She compares them to computer ratings,ideals, architecture and buildings. There are several murders that occur in the past and present in a specifically designed architects apartment. How are the murders connected? Who are the suspects?This novel had me second guessing and I would recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So captivating! Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A who done it that you will not figure out. Creative writing style. Easy to recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot. Although the opening chapters were a little slow paced, they built an effective framework for the action yet to come. It took me two weeks to get through the first hundred pages, but only a day to read the remainder of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is England, past and present. Emma's home has been burglarized while she's there. Jane’s child is stillborn. Moving offers them fresh starts. Moving from past to present can make a story exciting; that doesn't happen here. First part of book is slow. Dialog drags. The action begins a little too late to catch my interest. The book is good, not great. Voluntarily read an ARC for an honest review.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
The setting in The Girl Before may be questionable and wholeheartedly ridiculous, but it created a very interesting backdrop to an equally interesting relationship dynamic between the female lead: Jane and her OCD/controlling landlord, along with the mystery of what happened to the girl before: Emma. Both of these women share alternating POV's which allows the reader some insight into the characters and various other elements within the story. The Girl Before has mixed reviews and I can see why. There are components that will be eye-roll worthy for some but intriguing for others...for me it was a tiny bit of both, but more of the latter. I appreciated J.P. Delaney's attention to detail when it came to developing Jane's and Emma's characters, although it was difficult at times to remember who's perspective I was reading. Overall, I liked this psychological thriller and am interested to seeing how it will be adapted to film. Like I said, the reviews are mixed so read a few from both sides and see if this one is right for you. My favorite quote: "You can make your surroundings as polished and empty as you'd like but it doesn't really matter if you're still messed up inside."
Bev_Ash More than 1 year ago
Reading this book took me through a range of emotions from excitment, 'oh my, this can't be happening!!! ', to despair, 'oh no, this can't be happening'. It was an enjoyable read and kept me reading way past my bedtime. The characters were well developed and I even liked the bad guys. I received this from NetGalley for an honest review.
LauraMHartman More than 1 year ago
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman Two women. Two traumas. One home. One outrageous contract. One or two possible murders. The book begins with a house search. Jane has had something horrible happen to her and she needs to get out of her current flat to feel safe. The agent takes her to a home that is stark, sterile and has been empty for quite a while. She falls in love with the security so on a whim fills out the questionnaire the builder requires before she is considered a candidate for occupancy. At first she is unnerved by it, but soon realizes she can put up with the crazy rules and requirements if she is chosen. Surprisingly she is, giving up almost all of her possessions, she begins a journey that others have not lived through. Will she? The Girl Before was fascinating. I cannot imagine living without color, pictures of loved ones, or having to answer questions before the computer running my home will allow the shower to start. When things get sinister, Jane feels as though she needs to find out what happen to Emma, but this may prove to be fatal. Delaney’s book is creepy, engaging and thought provoking. I love the way in which it is written. Going back and forth from Emma to Jane the reader sees history almost repeat itself. Was it the choices both women made? Was it the home itself? You can tell when the characters start to live minimally and begin to lose themselves in the process. The author shows this by removing all of the dialog quotation marks. Oddly enough, I didn’t miss them for several chapters – quite possibly the same way these women didn’t miss their identity until it was gone. This is a fascinating thriller is full of surprises, twists and turns. I absolutely did not see the end coming, but was exceedingly satisfied as a reader when I finish. Just a note to those that may object, there is violence and sex in The Girl Before but I believe it is essential to the story.
mkdmom More than 1 year ago
I was given an ARC of this book from Net Gallery for an honest review. This book is difficult for me to review because I had such mixed feelings about it. One on hand, it was an excellent psychological thriller, thus the 4 star review. I loved how the chapters were short and the story alternated between the two women's stories. Definitely had me turning the pages to see what happened next. What disturbed me about this story is how manipulated the women in this story were by the men in their lives. They both seemed to enjoy being under someone else's control, and in fact, the girl before craved it. A good read, but I didn't particularly like the story if that makes sense.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this page turner of a novel. I went into the book without a lot of expectations. I decided to read this book based on the summary which sounded like it had the making of a good thriller. It turns out that I was hooked by the story almost immediately and found myself doing that thing where I promise that I will read just one more chapter and before I knew it, I had read half the book. This books tells two stories from two different timelines. Emma and Jane have both lived at the house at One Folgate Street. One Folgate Street is not your average house. It is a house with rules. Lots of rules. Rules that most people wouldn't even want to try to follow. If a potential tenant decides that they want to live in the house, the approval process is quite difficult and most are turned away. Emma and Jane were both approved. Emma moved in the house first with her boyfriend, Simon. Later, Jane moves in and learns that Emma died in the house. Both Emma and Jane were going through some very troubling issues when they moved into the house and hoped the move would give them the fresh start they want. Emma and Jane were both very interesting characters. I wouldn't say that I ever really liked them but I really became invested in learning what happened to Emma and wondered what would happen to Jane. The other key character in this book, Edward, was similar in that I didn't really like his characters but I couldn't help myself from wondering what he would do next. The way this book was laid out really worked well. The chapters alternated from Emma and Jane's point of view with Jane spending a lot of energy trying to learn what had happened to Emma. Sometimes the reader would see something happen to Emma just to have it happen to Jane in the next chapter. Instead of feeling redundant, it just added an extra layer to the story. The more that Jane became obsessed with finding out about Emma the more hooked I became. This was a book that was incredibly hard to set aside. My only complaint about the book is that I am not completely sold on the ending. I do like that the book took a lot of twists and turns that I didn't expect. For some reason the ending felt like a bit of a let down for me. I think that I had expected a bigger scene to help wrap everything up. I would highly recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers. This book grabbed my interest from the first page and never let go. I look forward to reading more from J.P. Delaney in the future. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
The house on One Folgate Street is an architectural marvel. It is unlike any other house with its soaring ceilings, stark marble walls, and computerized monitoring systems. So is its creator. Before the house can be rented, the prospective renter must fill out an application booklet, send in photographs of themselves, and be interviewed. The house is stark beyond all normal conventions of the word. No books, no pillows, no knick-knacks, no pictures are allowed. To say that the house must remain uncluttered is an understatement. The architect created the house in order to change its occupant. Emma is one such applicant. Traumatized by a break-in in her home, she is looking for security, and One Folgate Street seems to provide that. Jane, another applicant, is suffering as a result of a personal tragedy. She wants something totally different, to allow her to get her mind on something new. In this story, we follow the terrifying experiences of both women in this unconventional house. This psychological drama is amazing! Not only are the characters realistic, albeit, a bit weird, but the house itself becomes another fascinating character. This book keeps you guessing and wondering, until the very last pages. If you like not being able to put a book down, this is the one for you! This amazing book was given to me in exchange for an unbiased review.
andi22 More than 1 year ago
Touted as a Gone Girl, The Girl on a Train-read, the book kept me going. And it was well-written. I can see how it will appeal to a wide readership. BUT. A psychological thriller with a Now and Then format. Emma is then, Jane is now. They both "audition" to live in One Folgate Street-- a house that is an architecturally austere masterpiece that plays a pivotal role in the plot. Same for the house's creator, the manipulative Edward Monkford. Read to see the similarities [and discern the differences] between the two women. The book is well written and a page turner--at least through half the book. But I began to put two and two together and figure out some of the details. This detracted from the suspense. And the last bit, really not necessary IMHO. So if you want an easy and entertaining read, this book fits the bill. I think it's going to be a bestseller but not great for me. Read that Ron Howard has optioned this book/will direct the movie. Will want to see.
MusicInPrint More than 1 year ago
One Folgate Street - Hummm. Chapter titles are like the old learn to read books. Then: Emma Now: Jane alternating throughout the book as to whose life the reader is visiting. Emma resided at One Folgate Street Then and Jane resides there Now. What happened to Emma? What is going to happen to Jane? Edward Monkford, the architect of this building, is a very sinister man hoping to achieve a Utopia with rules of conduct for any who occupy this address. Very thought out read that flowed nicely and twisted and turned everytime I thought I had things figured out. Swift read and heart racing events. Loved reading and reviewing The Girl Before so thanks to the publisher and author via netgalley for this opportunity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very unusual. It’s unlike any thriller I’ve read. The story jumps smoothly between two beautiful, young residents of One Folgate Street in London. Emma, the tragic prior tenant, and Jane, the current resident, who is drawn into investigating the mystery of what happened to the girl who came before her. Jane seems to be walking in Emma’s footsteps and this concerns her. One Folgate Street is a character in its own right, a super high-tech house that can sense and respond to its occupants’ needs. It was designed to be a dwelling of serenity and calm, without clutter and a drastically minimalist style--no doorknobs, curtains, wastepaper baskets, even books! The interior décor is basically an open chamber of pale stone, stark and impersonal. It gave me an ominous feeling and created a sense of impending doom. Creepy! The writing style is ingenious and seemed to reflect the mood of the house, clean and flowing, divulging only the barest of information to keep you turning pages. Its characters are broken or struggling in some way, battling their demons, which gives the story a certain darkness. The pace really quickens throughout the last portion of the book with its many twists and surprises. I found this a very unique read.
marykuhl 5 months ago
I can not believe this took me ONLY a week to read. I felt like I was reading this for a month. This book did not hold my interest at all but I wanted to finish it to see if it got better. Suspense? No. This book was based on the story of two women who rented the same 1 bedroom home a few years apart. It starts out THEN: EMMA and goes to NOW: JANE, alternating each "chapter". The Emma sections was written without any quotation marks, which I find very hard to read. I had to re-read a lot of these sections because I couldn't tell if things were actually being said or thought about. The Jane sections were written normally. Punctuation and all. Emma and Jane were both very insecure and fell for the owner/architect. This book was filled with sex, violent sex and very unhealthy relationships. I don't really understand the last chapter of the book either. I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't like this and wouldn't really recommend it.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I really liked this quick and easy read. Maybe I should have seen some of the twists coming but I totally didn't and was very surprised. Definitely a mind game book. Have recommended to family to read. Not my usual genre but I really really enjoyed.