Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
S. J Watson took on an extremely difficult concept when he wrote Before I Go To Sleep. The novel is a thriller written entirely from the point of view of Christine Lucas, a woman who suffers from a type of amnesia that causes her to forget most of her life each time she falls into a deep sleep. It begins when she wakes up in bed with an older man she doesn't know. A glance in the bathroom mirror and a quick study of some photographs that have been taped on the glass, show Christine that she is no longer the twenty something young woman she thought she was. She is middle aged. The man she was sleeping with tells her they are married and explains her memory issues. This appears to be her life, to wake up and have to start over again each day.
Watson's writing grabs the reader immediately. The intensity drops off somewhat as the book continues, but given the structure Watson chose it is amazing how well he kept my attention.
Christine receives a call from a young psychiatrist, Dr. Nash, who has been seeing her despite the resistance of her husband, Ben, to her having any professional help. Nash tells her she's been keeping a journal and explains where she's hidden it. The journal is the means Watson uses to provide some continuity to the story.
There were a few times when Christine remembered things that seemed unlikely for anyone to remember, especially someone with her condition. For example she recognizing a woman doctor from a picture that had been flashed to her days earlier when she was undergoing a scan. It couldn't have been a memory from her journal. There were also a number of times when she would say she felt tired and wanted to rest. She didn't seem to be afraid to fall asleep, which struck me as odd. But for the most part there were very few contradictions in the book.
I loved the way the author created characters that all had their flaws, including Christine. Throughout the book I was sure there were people around her who could not be trusted, but I didn't know which ones she should have been concerned about. I created a number of theories while I read the book and only one of those turned out to be right.
This is a book club choice and a good example of an enjoyable read that I wouldn't have picked on my own.
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