Review: What Came Before by Anna George


Title: What Came Before

Author: Anna George

Published: Viking: Penguin Australia June 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from June 26 to 28, 2014 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

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

In her remarkable debut novel, Anna George begins with the end in order to explore what came before. As David Forrester sits slumped in his car, and Elle Nolan floats over her broken body, George takes us back to the beginning of their relationship, witness first to the heady rush of attraction and then the slow, painful corruption of love.

With keen insight and deft characterisation, George exposes the dynamic of domestic violence from the perspective of both abuser and victim.

David frames love in terms of power and control. His rare concessions are manipulative, his few apologies calculated, his affection conditional.

“You cannot kill your wife because you have lost control of her.”

Elle frames love in terms of surrender, gradually conceding her wants and needs to David, desperate to recapture the limerence of their initial connection.

“If only she had held onto herself”

But of all the truths in narrative it is this that resonates the strongest with me…

“Looking back she wonders at his mastery. He’d said so little yet she had heard so much.

What Came Before is a finely crafted, provocative novel told with a powerful intensity.

“It’s only once the damage has been done that anyone bothers about what came before.”

What Came Before is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kathrynsinbox
    Jun 30, 2014 @ 21:09:18

    Great review, Shelleyrae. (I love how you allow sections of the book to speak for themselves.) I found this one quite dark but oddly addictive–a bit like being unable to look away from a train wreak. And the writing was brilliant.



  2. ALS
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 23:17:02

    I tried and tried but it didn’t do it for me. Shallow and unimaginative.



  3. Trackback: July 2014: General Fiction | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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