What Came Before is an occasionally erotic literary thriller about the nature of love, limerence and a man and a woman who caught in an exhilarating but toxic relationship. The novel opens at the frightening climax of David and Elle's relationship--he, a lawyer, is sitting in his car and confessing into his dictaphone that he has just murdered his wife. Elle, meanwhile, is floating above her body. Throughout the course of the novel, both David and Elle reflect on their passionate, but ultimately destructive relationship.
Intense and often gripping, I found myself reading this one in a relatively short space of time. Author Anna George does a brilliant job of depicting David and Elle's relationship, showing how all the red flags were there from the beginning, but how Elle, blinded from infatuation, was unable to see them. It was also lovely to read about a different side of Melbourne, about its upper-middle classes. Likewise I enjoyed reading about Elle's work as a filmmaker and smiled a bit at some of the comments made about the Australian film industry--and very well done were the parallels between Elle's film and her relationship with David. The ending is surprising and somewhat dark, though fitting.
This is not a book where one falls in love with the characters or sighs at a happy ending--rather it is a complicated tale that stuck in my mind for the few days after I finished reading. Recommended for lovers of Literary fiction.
Finally, a big shout out to The Reading Room and Penguin Books for my review copy.