Book review: Before I Go To Sleep: SJ Watson

In book on September 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I have got to stop reading thrillers when I’m in bed – it’s not conducive to sweet dreams. I started Before I Go To Sleep on Sunday night, and after a couple of hours, as I turned the light out, was so tense that I almost just carried on reading. Last night, as I reached the final ‘pages’ – this being a Kindle it’s fair to say I had 20 per cent left to read – and shouted out my latest theories (poor Adam has to endure this with everything I read, I have to tell him what’s happening and what I think the outcome will be, just in case I’m right an can’t prove it) as the ultimate cliffhanger kicked in…the flashing page saying I’d run out of power appeared, leaving me on a knife-edge until 6.30am today.

(FYI, I was right about a bit of my theory, but very, very wrong in the main)

SJ Watson’s novel is a cracking debut – Christine wakes up to find that she doesn’t know where she is, and that she has no recollection of the night before. Turning over, she sees an older man wearing a wedding ring sleeping beside her, and creeps into the bathroom. Disgusted with herself for sleeping with a married man, a stranger, she tries to work out how to leave as she washes her hands… hands that are older, with a wedding ring on. Christine finds out, as she does every day, that she’s been married to Ben for 20 years, and that she has amnesia; every morning she wakes with no idea of who she is or who those around her are, all recollections of what she learned the day before erased…

A telephone conversation with the man who tells her he’s her doctor, that he’s been working with her to recover her memories, leads her to the journal she’s been keeping, and from there, Christine begins to find out who she is. Or is it who she’s been told she is?As flashes of memory strike out the of the blue, Christine records them, reading back over days and days of entries to piece together the life she had before the events that caused her memory loss, and to find out why it happened at all.

A chilling account, I was really drawn into this novel, desperate to find out what had happened, what accounts were true, which were lies, if the lies were to protect her, or to prevent her from moving on, who she could trust, and who even really exisited. A tense, tense thriller that really keeps you guessing, and then twists unpleasantly just as you think you’ve got your head around it.

This would make a great movie, so it’s no surprise to learn that Ridley Scott’s already earmarked it for production. I look forward to Watson’s second offering.


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