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The Woman Before Me by [Dugdall, Ruth]
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The Woman Before Me Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews

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Product Description


‘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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 696 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1611458358
  • Publisher: Legend Press (11 Aug. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004AE3HC0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,400 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would have enjoyed this book more had it not been absolutely littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. 'Parole board' is singular, the most irritating of all the mistakes, which runs throughout the entire book but which is bizarrely correct near the end. They can't even be consistent with the errors!

The story itself isn't particularly thrilling, either. The use of Rose's 'black book entry' is tenuous at best as a mode of telling the tale. There were bits that featured and should have gone somewhere but were rendered inconsequential by not being mentioned again. The characters are not likeable in any way, yet there's a sense that the author is trying too hard and in doing so, missing the mark. I figured out the majority of the 'great mystery' before the end, though the final twist was unexpected - and totally ridiculous, the cherry on the cake of a rather dull and incredibly irritating read.
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