What Came Before by Anna George

I’ve had a rotten few days – end of the school term (so the kids are being revolting); the house looks like a tip; trying to catch up on the eleventy billion tasks I put on hold during exams; and seriously, if I don’t get time to de-forest the legs before hitting Central Australia in shorts, there will be tears (mine and every tourist at Uluru who has to look my way). So it’s the perfect time to read a thriller. Obviously.

And What Came Before by Anna George was the one that I grabbed and it opens with this:

“My name is David James Forrester. I’m a solicitor. Tonight, at 6.10, I killed my wife.
This is my statement.”

So obviously I wasn’t going to do much else until I’d read David James Forrester’s story.

But it’s also his wife, Elle’s, story. What unfolds is a retelling of what people are prepared to do for love – the sacrifices, the compromises and the secrets.

This is a tricky book to talk about without giving bits away. I’m not even going to reveal the main theme (because the book blurb doesn’t).

What I liked – the Melbourne setting, the almost stereotypical characters (important in the context of the story), the ebb-and-flow of tension, the clues that the worst was yet to come. And did I mention that I could not put this book down?!

So why not full marks? I understand why George wrote Elle’s character in the way that she did but I didn’t love it. I also needed a bit more of Elle’s back story to understand her behaviour better (although maybe that’s George’s point – how do we grapple with such behaviour?). I raced through the final pages, almost skimming to find out what happens, but after such meticulously written scenes for the bulk of the story, the final one felt a little disjointed (and I don’t think it was because I was reading fast).

3/5 Gripping but points off for the ending which left me feeling cheated.

I received my copy of  What Came Before from the publisher, Penguin Books Australia, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Elle seems to have a pot of Marinara sauce bubbling away on the stove quite often. I don’t have a recipe for Marinara, I just make it up as I go depending on what I have in the way of ripe and tinned tomatoes, but here’s one with a few tasty variations.


8 responses

      • Just asked my Italiano husband about that and he said ‘waaa, no’ and then said ‘I have seen one place, somewhere on a menu, can’t remember where, they described what he thinks of as Napoli but it was called Marinara.’ Absolutely confused. Now I’ve googled, how weird. Interesting.

      • I’ve also seen it on menus as Marinara…can’t say where though. Perhaps it’s an American thing? When you google Marinara you get a bunch of results for what I (and you) call Napoli. American readers, help us out! What do you call plain tomato pasta sauce?

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