Before I Go To Sleep, SJ Watson

Before I Go To SleepI wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, I’d seen it floating about quite a bit but something about the story and the cover put me off. Still I decided to give it a chance so I put it on my Christmas list and then it sat on my shelf for a couple of months until it finally made it into my “actively reading” pile.

The story is told by Christine who wakes up one morning to discover that she’s missing 20 years of her life. Living in a house she doesn’t recognise, married to a man she’s never met yet surrounded by evidence to the contrary Christine is confused to say the least. It soon emerges that since an accident several years before, Christine has suffered from an unusual type of amnesia in which years of her life are wiped from her memory every time she goes to sleep.

In the initial chapter we (and Christine) discover that her husband, Ben, is a high school science teacher and has been her sole carer since the accident. We also discover that Christine has been seeing a doctor in secret and that as part of her therapy she has been keeping a journal of the things she learns every day as a kind of memory bank.

The rest of the book is Christine’s journal and through it we discover that Ben has been hiding a number of truths from his wife but that, thanks to the journal, she has been beginning to remember and may be closer to recovery than she knows.

I was worried at first that I was going to have to endure page after page of “I didn’t know where I was when I woke up this morning” or “the man in my house says his name is Ben” and other such refrains but happily this was not the case. There was a certain level of repetition which is fair enough since it can only be expected from someone who has no memory and can help to remind you of key facts from earlier in the book. Since Christine’s memory is fluid, some days she wakes feeling 21, some days she is only a child, the story can feel a little disjointed at times and tends to jump around according to what she’s remembered that day.

For a novel with essentially only three characters, and most of the action set in one location it’s no mean feat to keep the story moving at all and there was a reasonable amount of intrigue as Christine experienced glimpses of her past to illuminate the story.

I won’t say that it was the most gripping book I’ve ever read and at times I felt the pace dragged somewhat and some points became rather laboured. Christine is never quite sure whether to trust her husband whereas I, as the reader of a thriller, was quite sure there was probably something dodgy about him from the get go.

That’s the beauty of being “in the know” I suppose.

Still when the Big Reveal came I was only half right and I’m always glad to be surprised.


3 responses to “Before I Go To Sleep, SJ Watson

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