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Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1st edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062060554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062060556
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,627 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis--all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? And, for the reader: Can Christine’s story be trusted? At the heart of S. J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep is the petrifying question: How can anyone function when they can't even trust themselves? Suspenseful from start to finish, the strength of Watson's writing allows Before I Go to Sleep to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity. One of the best debut literary thrillers in recent years, Before I Go to Sleep deserves to be one of the major blockbusters of the summer. --Miriam Landis

Review

“An exceptional thriller. It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished the last page.” (Dennis Lehane)

“Imagine drifting off every night knowing that your memories will be wiped away by morning. That’s the fate of Christine Lucas, whose bewildering internal world is rendered with chilling intimacy in this debut literary thriller. . . . You’ll stay up late reading until you know.” (People (4 stars))

“The summer’s single most suspenseful plot belongs to BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP. . . . pure page-turner.” (New York Times)

“Quite simply the best debut novel I have ever read.” (Tess Gerritsen)

“Memories—real, false, and a bit of both—are at the heart of Watson’s haunting, twisted debut…. Watson handles what could have turned into a cheap narrative gimmick brilliantly, building to a chillingly unexpected climax.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“This mesmerizing, skillfully written debut novel works on multiple levels. It is both an affecting portrait of the profound impact of a debilitating illness and a pulse-pounding thriller whose outcome no one could predict.” (Booklist (starred review))

“An intriguingly fresh look at the amnesia-focused psychological thriller. . . . A captivating and highly suspenseful read, populated with believable characters who lead the reader through a taut, well-constructed plot.” (Library Journal)

“Watson’s debut novel unwinds as a story that is both complicated and compellingly hypnotic. . . . Watson’s pitch–perfect writing propels the story to a frenzied climax that will haunt readers long after they’ve closed the cover on this remarkable book.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“A deft, perceptive exploration of a fascinating neurological condition, and a cracking good thriller.” (Lionel Shriver)

“Brilliant in its pacing, profound in its central question, suspenseful on every page and satisfying in its thriller ending.” (Anita Shreve)

More About the Author

S. J. Watson lives in London and worked in the National Health Service for a number of years. In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, a rigorous and selective program that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go to Sleep is the result.

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Customer Reviews

Great book with alot of suspense and a twist at the end.
Amazon Customer
I found the ending a little predictable but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.
LalaB
Started the book in the morning and could not put it down till I read the last page.
Constance E. Mollo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm not prone to over-the-top hyperbole, but I must say that S.J. Watson's debut "Before I Go To Sleep" caught me by complete surprise. I knew very little about the book and so went into the experience with no preconceived notions or expectations. And I'll tell you--I quite loved this book! In fact (cue hyperbole), it may just be my favorite book of 2011 thus far. The narrative structure of Watson's book is a complicated trick to pull off--and before I gush--I never fully believed it. Most of the story is structured as a diary, if you will, recounting daily events. In many cases this journal is hastily written, and yet it is just so thoroughly professional, polished, complete, and detailed. I know the character was a latent writer, but the prose is just too lush and descriptive to be random recollections and musings done in a time pinch. But even though I never really fully bought into this aspect, the book made me a believer with its compelling plot and challenging questions.

Very quickly, the story concerns a woman with an unusual memory deficiency. Every morning she awakes with no idea of who she is, where she is, and who is sleeping in bed next to her. Her husband must start every day hitting the highlights of her life and condition caused by a trauma many years in the past. Working with a tenacious new doctor, Christine starts to document each of her days in a journal. Keeping track of daily events and discoveries starts to link her full story together, but it might be a story best left unraveled. What begins as a harrowing psychological drama soon gives way to a suspense thriller where Christine doesn't know who to trust. She can't even trust herself!

Watson tells a killer tale, really entertaining.
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221 of 237 people found the following review helpful By SD VINE VOICE on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With a premise as deceptively simple as this, execution is everything. How does one create a coherent first person narrative wherein the protagonist does not remember anything from the last chapter? In this case, Watson met the challenge in such a way that I was riveted from the disoriented beginning to startling end.

"I look up at the mirror.

"The face I see looking back at me is not my own. The hair has no volume and is cut much shorter than I wear it; the skin on the cheeks and under the chin sags; the lips are thin; the mouth turned down. I cry out, a wordless gasp that would turn into a shriek of shock were I to let it, and then notice the eyes. The skin around then is lined, yes, but despite everything else, I can see that they are mine. The person in the mirror is me, but I am twenty years too old. Twenty-five. More.

"This isn't possible. I begin to shake and grip the edge of the sink. Another scream begins to rise in my chest and this one erupts as a strangled gasp. I step back, away from the mirror...I step back farther, until I feel cold tiles against my back. It is then I get the glimmer that I associate with memory. As my mind tries to settle on it, it flutters away, like ashes caught in a breeze, and I realize that in my life there is a then, a before, though before what I cannot say, and there is a now, and there is nothing between the two but a long, silent emptiness that has led me here...."

Somehow, even though Christine wakes up each day without any recent memory, the narrative still progresses logically and in a fast paced manner. The mystery and suspense are built in as, seen through Christine's unreliable perspective, everything is suspicious and baffling.
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161 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Hard to believe it's a debut novel, SJ Watson's Before I Go to Sleep has garnered star reviewed from Kirkus and Booklist and was in development to be adapted into a movie before the book was even released. And though I've read some excellent books this year, I haven't come across a novel that would appeal to so many readers. This book has all the makings of an absolute block buster.

It begins as a twenty something Christine wakes up in a stranger's bed unable to remember how she got there. She quickly learns some disturbing facts: the stranger is her husband, Ben who she can't remember at all, she is middle aged and has forgotten most of her life, and she suffers from a rare form of amnesia where she can't retain memories from day to day. As she's trying to cope with all of this information, she stumbles across something more bizarre--a journal where she's been recording her recollections of recent day's events beginning with the title page on which she has scrawled, "Don't Trust Ben!"

And then the story is told through Christine's journal offering the readers an over the shoulder roller coaster ride as Christine tries to determine what has happened to her, and who if anyone she can trust. The dread mounts until the book's messy conclusion. Because it's so well plotted to say Watson's story is "gripping" is an understatement, it is simply breathtaking. It's a hell of a book, and is sure to be a hell of a movie. Highly recommended.
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175 of 205 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Guthrie on September 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase
Have you every read a slew of reviews and thought "what book were these readers reading"?

That's the question I have after seeing any review that claims this book is thrilling. Or even entertaining. My gut feeling is this book has been guerrilla marketed. Watson is not a bad writer; indeed I agree with the reviewer that said he does a fine job of capturing the experience of a character rewriting her history each day through keeping a journal (stop for a second, however, and ask yourself if this is a good thing).

The premise is an interesting one, if not a bit overdone these days (in fact, see "Memento", the movie, a much more intriguing thriller that examines a protagonist with a terrifying memory affliction). In this particular take on the subject, a woman with memory problems--a wife who cannot retain the previous day's memories (or any long term memory at all) upon waking each morning--struggles to figure out who she is, what exactly happened to her, and perhaps most importantly, who she can trust.

Fair enough. There is some interesting potential here.

But then that plot line replays for three-quarters of the book! I literally found myself at 80% on my Kindle before I felt like the plot might be finally moving somewhere toward a revelation that was looming for several hundred pages. The first few times Watson's protagonist wakes up and has to reread her journal to remember who she is and what happened, it's mildly interesting. (NOTE: nothing has actually happened to her in these captured pages, other than remembering who she is, who her husband is, and who her doctor is). After this daily replay for a few hundred pages, it's time for the hangman's noose.
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