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A blog by Nikki Dudley about the gaps in everyday life...

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Monday, 27 December 2010

The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall




4/5 rating

** spoiler alert **

I was excited to read this novel as I had read some of the author's work on authonomy.com. This book thankfully, lived up to my excitement. I read it in about two days, constantly thinking about the characters and the story, so much that I had to pick it up again and again!

Rose Wilks is a cold and intriguing character. Her story is told in the present but also through her entries in a black notebook, talking about her past, her relationships and the events leading up to the death of her friend's baby, Luke.

The other narrator is Rose's probation officer, Cate. Her character is not likeable at first but I begun to enjoy the alternative perspective - her observations about the other characters in particular (Emma, the mother of the dead child, Emma's current husband, Jason (Rose's partner and Emma's ex-husband), and the other people in the prison environment)). Also, she provides a different perspective of Rose.

Thinking of someone killing a baby on purpose is of course something that most people don't like to think about and the beauty of this novel is that it plays on the desire for Rose to be innocent, when in fact, there seems to be ample evidence to the contrary. And even if she isn't guilty of murdering Luke (which I'm not saying either way), you can argue she is no doubt a troubled individual who has hurt people in other ways and that she is being rightfully punished for some things she has done (stalking, obsession, lying, manipulation). But the question is - should she be released? Has she paid for her crime/s? This is Cate's dilemma and the dilemma of the readers who can only watch the information unfold, toiling with their perceptions of Rose.

A great novel and I'm excited to say that this author has another book forthcoming in 2011. The Woman Before Me is by no means a masterpiece and there could be some fine-tuning of the writing but overall, Dugdall is a very good writer who has constructed a story that I won't forget in a hurry.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for taking the time to review The Woman Before Me, Nikki. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and yes The Sacrificial Man will be publsihed in June 2011.
    The Woman Before Me has recently been nominated for the People's Book Prize - the only literary award based entirely on public vote - so if your review encourages anyone to vote for me I'd be really grateful. Here's the link:
    http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=504
    Good luck with Ellipsis, and the blog.
    Best wishes,
    Ruth

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