... wonderfully sophisticated and beautifully conceived ... the exceptionally talented Gosling does what many new authors cant: She skillfully navigates several interconnecting timelines in an already multifaceted and complex story. This can be problematic for even the most successful and seasoned novelists, but Gosling handles this obstacle with a unique and clever touch that is quite refreshing ... although the plotline seems on the surface to lean on cliché and familiar literary images, the narrative overcomes these formulaic weaknesses with a sophisticated tale of devotion and loss, and the power of, and corruption of memory that is compelling and poignant ... Overall, Before the Ruins retains an air of originality that is missing from many current novels, and Gosling most certainly intended to overlap genres that include coming of age, mystery, and contemplative observational examination. She stealthily avoids the trickery of imitation and generalization, producing a captivating and thought-provoking novel that allows the reader to ponder the frailties and weaknesses that are ever-present and inherent in our human nature.
Memory is incomplete; the book jumps back and forth between past and present. It’s hard at times to know which details are important ... all these strands are teased out, sometimes too subtly. By the time we realize we are dealing with a murder mystery, we are a long way into the book ... But Gosling is a stylish, sophisticated writer, and we realize that we are following Andy on what amounts to a grand scavenger hunt for the truth. Rain falls relentlessly, and the ensuing floods form an ominous backdrop to a story that becomes darker as it goes along. Some secrets are better left buried.
... devilish ... Though the main narrative is propelled by the mysteries of Peter and the diamonds, the true soul of Before the Ruins is found in its contemplation of existential themes such as grief, guilt, desire, friendship and loss. There are plenty of bombshells to titillate and thrill over the course of the story, but many of the most rewarding discoveries come not from the grand reveals in the final act but from moments when Andy gains depth and dimension through revelations of her most closely guarded secrets and memories ... Richly atmospheric and exquisitely written, Before the Ruins is wistful and haunting, hopeful and beautiful. Confidently contributing to the tradition of British mysteries, Gosling has delivered a tale that will satisfy fans of Tana French and Paula Hawkins.
... whip-smart ... delivers not only the dead body at the weekend gathering but also the howlingly bad weather, the haunting account of long-ago villainy and--what's this? Shield your eyes, Miss Marple: there's an act of copulation over by the mantelpiece! ... Public sex, drug taking and a sexual abuse subplot are just some of the ways that Before the Ruins departs from the classic country-house mystery, and Gosling doesn't signal so much as semaphore her awareness that she's playing around with a familiar fictional genre ... This isn't to suggest that the book's multiple mysteries go unsolved. The one concerning Peter's disappearance is so engaging that readers may occasionally wish that Andrea didn't tarry so long in the past. If only she had a choice.
Lyrical and well-paced, matching the tone of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (1992), Kate Weinberg’s The Truants (2020), and Katie Lowe’s The Furies (2019), Before The Ruins spans decades among a fractured friend group. Gosling cleverly jumps backwards and forwards in time, unraveling Peter’s disappearance just as readers understand the depth of the friends’ secrets.
... dark, multilayered ... As a mystery, Before the Ruins is fairly predictable, though no less engrossing for it. Gosling handles the gothic, the tragic and the unexplainable well, often tackling multiple storylines at once and weaving them together for a grand reveal. But the book is not only --- or even mostly --- a mystery. It is much more an examination of adulthood and the disappointments that come with it. Andy’s journey from rough-and-tumble teen to sought-after professional is both shocking and painfully familiar, and I have no doubt that her ennui will resonate with readers of a certain age. Combining the real mysteries at the heart of the book with the all-encompassing, unsolvable mystery of adulthood makes this novel heady and dreamy, much more than your average English mystery ... Although I enjoyed the general plot and found much to love about the characters, especially Andy, I was often distracted by the writing. Gosling’s prose is poetic in style, and though there were several lovely passages, I often found myself distanced from the heart of the book trying to figure out what she was saying. There were times when I was not sure who was speaking --- an important fact in a group of five! --- and I had to reread sections to be sure. I would read another novel by Gosling, but I’d like to see her try her hand at something less plot-based and more character-driven, for that is where she truly shines.
Though it’s Peter’s disappearance that sets off the events that lead Andy to unpack her youth, this book isn’t exactly a thriller. The elements of mystery serve to provide narrative tension, but the real point here is Gosling’s examination of the disappointment of modern living, the emptiness of adulthood, and the notion of the fake diamond necklace so many of us spend our lives searching for. The ending doesn’t quite satisfy, and a few of the passages on contemporary culture fall flat—for example, saying that Tinder is superficial is not much of an observation at this point. But Andy’s search for her friend works well as a scaffolding for some lovely passages ... Come for the missing person mystery, stay for the existential ennui.