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Named a Best New Book of 2021 (so far) by Real Simple
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Lit Hub and Bustle
A gripping, multilayered debut in the tradition of Tana French and Donna Tartt about four friends, an empty manor, and a night that will follow them for the rest of their lives
It's the summer of 1996 and school's out forever for Andy, her boyfriend Marcus, her best friend Peter, and Em. When Andy's alcoholic mother predicts the apocalypse, the four teenagers decide to see out the end of the world at a deserted manor house, the site of a historic unsolved mystery. There they meet David—charming and unreliable, he seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
David presents an irresistible lure for both Andy and Peter and complicates the dynamics of their lifelong friendship. When the group learns that a diamond necklace, stolen fifty years ago, might still be somewhere on the manor grounds, the Game—half treasure hunt, half friendly deception—begins. But the Game becomes much bigger than the necklace, growing to encompass years of secrets, lies, and, ultimately, one terrible betrayal.
Meticulously plotted and gorgeously written, Before the Ruins is a page-turner of the highest order about the sealed-off places in our pasts and the parts of ourselves waiting to be retrieved from them.
British author Gosling's stellar debut focuses on four childhood friends Andy, the bold ringleader; her boyfriend, Marcus; her best friend, Peter; and the creative and enterprising Em. In the summer of 1996, the four, all in their late teens, decide to experience "the apocalypse" that Andy's alcoholic mother believes will happen on June 20 at an abandoned manor house in the Wiltshire countryside that was the scene of a suspicious death and the theft of a priceless diamond necklace in 1936. When they arrive at the manor that day, there's no apocalypse, but they do encounter a stranger, David, in the drive. He knows the new owners, a wealthy family waiting to remodel it. David, flirtatious and a bit older than the others, is immediately drawn to Andy and to Peter, creating tension between the two friends. In the days that follow, Em finds a suitable, cheap facsimile of the stolen necklace in a thrift shop, and the friends take turns hiding the fake necklace, which the others must find. Some romantic drama ensues, and in the autumn they all go their separate ways. More than 20 years later, Andy and Peter meet on occasion, but avoid talking about what happened at the manor. Then Peter disappears, and Andy resolves to find him. The gorgeous, poetic prose perfectly complements the suspenseful plot. Gosling is off to a terrific start.