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Before You Knew My Name

Before You Knew My Name

By Jacqueline Bublitzpaperback4 May 2021
or 4 payments of $7.50 with Learn more
Booklovers earn $1.45 in rewards
An extraordinary, unputdownable debut novel exploring trauma, connection, and our cultural obsession with dead girls.

'Beautiful, brilliant and strangely joyous … will have you in its thrall from its powerful first page to its superb conclusion.' Rose Carlyle, author of Girl in the Mirror

'Addictive and utterly captivating. I couldn't put it down.' Sarah Bailey, author of Where the Dead Go

'This astonishing debut turns the traditional crime story on its head … Darkly funny, deeply insightful and completely heartbreaking.' Petronella McGovern, author of Six Minutes

'The most wonderful book. Unusual, beautiful, feminist, gripping, deserves to win prizes. I loved it so much'. Marian Keyes, author of Grown Ups

This is not just another novel about a dead girl.

When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city's latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.

Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice's body by the Hudson River.

From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life - and death. And Ruby - struggling to forget what she saw that morning - finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.

Before You Knew My Name doesn't ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.

'A wake-up call, beautifully written and unique feminist exploration of the crime fiction genre.' R.W.R. McDonald, author of The Nancys

'Unpredictable, devastating and original … marks the arrival of a compelling new voice … Thought-provoking and challenging.' Karen Viggers, author of The Lightkeeper's Wife

'Beguiling, heartbreaking and tender. Jacqueline Bublitz is a beautiful writer and in Alice Lee, she has created a vivid and sparkling narrator who mesmerised me from the very first page and still won't let me go.' Suzanne Leal, author of The Teacher's Secret

'An unputdownable debut - striking, moving, gripping throughout and so sharp on the things that unite us' Elizabeth Kay, author of Seven Lies

"This is a very different spin on the usual crime novel; a beautiful, sad and powerful story of what happens when a woman dies and nobody knows who she is, told from the perspective of the victim. I absolutely adored reading this in Alice's voice. It's a story that will stay with the reader long after they've finished." Karina, Dymocks Canberra


  • Title: Before You Knew My Name
  • Author: Jacqueline Bublitz
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • ISBN: 9781760878856
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Languages: English


29/05/2021 6:13:57 PM - Marianne
an accomplished debut novel.
“It’s like learning to see a while different way. When you adjust the aperture, narrow the opening of the lens, background objects come into focus. Kind of like you’re pulling the world into you, bringing it closer. Nothing seems far away any more.” Before You Knew My Name is the first novel by Australian/New Zealand author, Jacqueline Bublitz. When she turns eighteen, Alice Lee escapes small-town Wisconsin and arrives in New York City with a room address, $600 cash and a stolen vintage Leica camera. Mostly through luck and the kindness of strangers, she lands on her feet, for a while, at least. And then she is murdered. Also escaping to New York City is Ruby Jones, whose life in Melbourne is “so empty of the usual trappings, so accidentally unconventional, it was easier to take a gap year at thirty-six than it was to stay put and be reminded of everything she didn’t have.” But to begin with, Ruby isn’t finding New York an antidote to loneliness. Early one stormy April morning, needing to escape her claustrophobic studio apartment, Ruby goes for a long run which takes her to a deserted and disorienting Riverside Park, where she stumbles on Alice’s half-naked body lying at the waters edge. Her feeling of guilt at being too late to help transforms into a need to know who this girl, soon to be dubbed Riverside Jane, was. She begins to feel connected to her, deep in her bones. The first real friend she makes in the city tells her “I’ve come to think that intensity, not time, is what connects us. And what could be more intense than being the one to find her?” Days pass and, without witnesses, without a missing persons report, police are making no progress. Ruby is not the only one looking for answers about Alice, but she is subtly steered in a different direction… Alice’s first-person narrative details her time in New York in tandem with descriptions of Ruby’s days, and then delves into the life events that brought each of them to this point. Alice initially baulks at describing her death, although she expresses her surprise and anger at being robbed of her statistically allotted 79.1 years. Ruby and Alice have more in common than is apparent at first glance: both display optimism and a determination to survive, and both are putting distance between themselves and a toxic relationship with a man who is a user. Bublitz’s characters have depth and appeal, and she gives them wise words and insightful observations “Why do people, the good ones, always seem to blame themselves when someone deceives them? Seems to me, when that happens, the bad guy gets away with more than just their obvious crime.” Her descriptive prose is beautiful, evocative: “When the massage is over, she feels light, spacious, as if the man back in that cramped room has somehow untied all her knots, pushed her out to sea. Is that all it takes, she wonders, slightly embarrassed at her own simplicity. Someone taking care of her for an hour, placing her at the centre of things.” The story explores the highly topical theme of women’s right to safety in public places and highlights the disproportionate amount of media attention given to incidents of violent crime involving middle to upper class white girls. Thought-provoking and heart-warming, this is an accomplished debut novel. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.



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