The Woman Before Me
Winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and the Luke Bitmead Bursary
Shortlisted for The New Angle Book Prize, The People’s Book Prize and the Brit Writer’s Novel Award.
‘They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.’
Rose Wilks’ life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Alongside her is Emma Hatcher, who’s just given birth to Luke. Joel dies and Luke is thriving, until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.
Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke’s death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.
Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so… by what means?
This is a haunting story of obsession, birth and murder and the consequences of said behaviours. This is the type of book that once you have read it; it sits with you, teasing your memories, challenging your ethics, ideals and questions “what would you do in this position?”
This is an interesting narrative; before we have even turned the first page we know that 1 baby dies in hospital and one has died in a tragedy, that Rose Wilks has been charged and found guilty of the death of baby Luke and that she is in gaol awaiting possible release on parole. Here we meet probation officer Cate who has the unenviable task of determining if Rose is suitable for early release. And this is where our story actually starts.
This is a story of the everyday, by that I mean the language is simple, cleanly written, neat and precise. The story sits quietly on the page, daringly revealing the truth word by word, entry by entry in Rose’s diary. In this narrative we have the alternating perspectives of Cate and Rose to guide the reader.
Dugdall is excellent in creating mood and setting. I found the prison settings, inmates and guards disquieting. I did not however find any of the characters particularly inviting or endearing. I did find the story particularly sad and the twist in the tail will surprise many. I wonder what Ms Dugdall will come with in her next book?