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The Woman Before Me Paperback – 28 Aug 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press Ltd (28 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907461159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907461156
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

BIOGRAPHY: RUTH DUGDALL

BACKGROUND
Ruth studied English at university and then took an MA is Social Work. Following this she worked in the Criminal Justice System as a social worker then as a probation officer. Part of this time was spent seconded to a prison housing serious offenders.
Ruth's novels are informed by her experience and are "authentic and credible".

WRITING
Ruth's first novel, The James Version, is a historical fiction based on the actual murder of Maria Marten at the Red Barn in Suffolk. The story is re-told with a fresh light on who really killed Maria.

Her second novel, The Woman Before Me, won the Debut Dagger in 2005. It is the story of Rose Wilks, a female stalker imprisoned for killing a child, who claims to be innocent.

Her third novel, The Sacrificial Man, will be published in 2011.
It is the story on an Internet suicide pact that goes wrong.

Product Description

Review

‘Gripping, original, authentic and, in the final few pages, utterly heartbreaking’ Erin Kelly

'Ruth Dugdall's novels are intelligent and gripping, with a sophisticated psychological sensibility. She is a huge talent.' Sophie Hannah

'An absolute tour de force that left me thinking for days' Alex Marwood

‘a chilling psychological thriller with a shocking twist. I read it one day and couldn't put it down'. Louise Millar

‘sad, moving and beautiful’ Penny Hancock

Winner of the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award
Winner of the 2009 Luke Bitmead Bursary
Shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2011
Longlisted for the New Angle Book Prize
Shortlisted for the Brit Writer’s Novel Award

From the Author

How can we escape what others have created? We all become what our pasts make us. Whether it's in replication or rejection, rebellion or duty, our life's journey is written on our skin like a tattoo, the map to the heart of us. What has the teacher learnt? What does the barrister wish to defend? Those who hold others under lock and key, what do they seek to control?
(The Woman Before Me)

We are all just one event away from the loss of love, of the status quo, of the illusory balance in our lives.

The characters in The Woman Before Me are ordinary people made extraordinary by an unusual situation or an unusual choice. I am interested in extremities, situational and emotional, which would include crime but also madness, sexual deviance, and obsessive love....

Happiness is a fragile, transitory thing. In some ways only when it is gone can we truly discover what we are made of, the very essence of our self: integrity, courage; or the opposite. Whether or not we can be survivors. I'm compelled to explore human emotion (especially grief, jealousy, anger) and the tentative grip any of us have on our lives.

I spent years working with criminals, including murderers and sex offenders, and every novel has been inspired by a true event. Although there is often a crime or violent incident at the core of my writing, my novels explore the real consequences of crime. In much genre crime fiction, when the perpetrator is successfully caught, natural order is restored. If anything, my writing is the opposite of such escapism.

The Woman Before Me is (I hope!) a reflective novel. A careful exploration of loss and love, an emotional insight into ourselves. I want the reader to close the book and hug their child a bit tighter, kiss their lover more softly. To feel they have actively participated in the journey, arriving with a different view of their own surroundings...

...If only for a moment.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 154 people found the following review helpful By S'lander1 on 9 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I have to begin this review with a caveat. I rarely read crime fiction, so know little about the conventions of the genre. Nevertheless this book was highly recommended to me so I thought I would break with habit and read it. I'm glad I did.

THE WOMAN BEFORE ME was instantly engaging and kept me gripped throughout. I'd go so far as to say it's unputdownable. Partly this is due to the clear and precise prose, partly the carefully structured and controlled plot. Not a great deal happens (if you're looking for lots of murders or car chases I suggest you pick up something else) yet the author manages to take the ordinary lives of people and make them truly captivating.

The novel's greatest strength is Rose Wilks. She narrates the majority of the book in flash back and despite being a convicted child killer emerges as a complex but sympathetic - ultimately even tragic - character. Ruth Dugdall has written her with great psychological insight and captures Rose's descent into obsession with chilling precision. I found myself desperate for Rose to do the right thing and yet simultaneously understanding her needs, even empathising with them. It's quite an achievement and left me disturbed long after I had put the book down.

This is an impressive debut and I would recommend it without reservation.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By wendy on 13 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Crime novels are 'not my scene' so this is a book I would not have read had it not been selected for our book club. I am glad it was.

At one level, The Woman Before Me does not sit easily into the crime genre ; for me, one of its great strengths is that it is a study of loss - all types of loss - and particularly the conflicting emotions that loss engenders in women. In particular, two women are contrasted - one a superficial woman whose life revolves around the ephemera of our time, and the other a deep, insightful but impoverished spirit, who sinks further into obsession as the story progresses.

Ruth Dugdall draws her characters with consummate skill, using her personal experience as a Probation Officer in a women's prison to bring them to life. She holds the reader's atention through to the end, with its horrifying twist.

I have no hesitation is recommending this to any reader.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bookie TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Jan. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a cracking tale. I haven't come across this author before, but the reviews looked interesting and I was gripped from the start.

Dugdall's narrative flows along at exctly the right pace; she builds tension as the story develops. The narrative reveals an ear for detail; it's authentic and I would say draws on personal experience of prison life and attitudes. The macho, sexist chauvinism is particularly well observed.

The central character is a sorry individual. One trying to make the best of a poor lot in life. Her obsessive behaviour takes over leading to appalling consequences. She is a deeply flawed individual, but manipulative and cunning in the extreme. Her way of exacting revenge on those she hates is both rational and irrational.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, polished it off quickly because it was completely engaging and on the strength of that, bought the next in the Cate series. That's shaping up well too! Go for it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Frances Stott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel has been described as a "psychological thriller", and while it is certainly psychological, it didn't feel to me to be much of a thriller. It tells the story of Rose, who has been jailed for killing the baby of her friend Emma. Emma has everything Rose would like; beauty, a lovely husband, home and baby; while Rose's own life has been hard. She has had a relationship with Jason, Emma's ex-husband, and has managed to hang on to him, despite his continued infatuation with his ex-wife, because Rose too becomes pregnant.

The story begins with Rose coming up for parole, and Cate, her probation officer, looking into her case and making her decision on whether or not to recommend the parole. The suspense, such as it is, rests on whether or not the parole will be granted, and more importantly, what really happened. Did Rose kill Emma's baby? And if not, who did? I found the final denouement very disappointing, and the writing generally didn't grip me as it has other readers. Another (small) point lies with one particular piece of grammar. People are repeatedly described as being "stood" or "sat" (eg "he was stood at the window") when the correct word should be "standing" or "sitting", and for me, this jarred. I fail to understand how these errors - small as they are - got past the author's editor.

I found this a good enough read, but I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thea1710@aol.com on 3 Nov. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a book you have to finish - yet do not want to end. As the novel continues you develop empathy for Rose as her back story un folds - but also get an insight into her psychopathology. Cate the probation officer, is a more two dimensional character and I would have liked her character to have been more developed which would have added to the interest. The novel could have been longer and this is where Cates story could have unfolded. I remain puzzled as to the reason she made the decision she did - I do not feel there was enough explanation or exploration of Cates reasoning.
The other main characters are well described by the voices of Rose and Cate - giving different perspectives on each of them.I loved the twists in Roses little black book and the way the author timed each revelation before changing to Cates story. I would
thoroughly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from the author.
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