I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
One Folgate Street, in the Hendon neighborhood of London, is no ordinary house. The rental property has a low rent for the area, but not just anyone can rent it. Becoming a tenant in the minimalist "smart" house requires the completion of an extensive application, accompanied by photographs, and approval by the owner-architect Edward Monkford, who conducts a personal interview before accepting tenants. The tenants must abide by the terms of a contract that imposes a series of rules about how the home must be maintained and furnished. Certain items, such as throw pillows and any kind of clutter, are prohibited. Tenants must complete periodic "assessments": questionnaires taken through the property's "Housekeeper" app, which shuts down house services (like the shower) until the assessment is completed.
The book is structured in two time frames, "THEN" and "NOW." Emma Matthews narrates the "THEN" chapters, and Jane Cavendish narrates "NOW." Both women successfully complete the application/intterview process and move into One Folgate Street, after having experienced a personal trauma. Each woman, for her own reason, is attracted to the simple, open design of the house and senses that the home's rules and procedures will transform them into better versions of themselves.
Jane becomes aware that Emma died in the house, under mysterious circumstances. As she delves into Emma's life at One Folgate, she soon discovers that she and Emma bore a physical resemblance to one another. On top of that, certain personal developments in Jane's life parallel Emma's. Is Jane's life in danger, too? What are Edward Monkford's motives in having the house shape the lives of its tenants?
The narrative moves quickly, and the plot contains a series of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. With both women, there are surprises as bits of new information continue to change the impression the reader has been developing of the narrators. Recommended to readers who enjoy a fast-moving psychological thriller.
I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley. This has not prevented me from writing an honest review.