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Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062060562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062060563
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,640 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

Twists and turns kept me reading until the very end.
marlene m. polan
I will just say wow, this is an amazing book that I had to read in one day, I couldn't put it down.
Raizel the Raisin
I found it slow paced, repetitive, implausible, and predictable way before the end.
barney

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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236 of 252 people found the following review helpful By joyful 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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168 of 186 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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144 of 167 people found the following review helpful By C. Quinn on April 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this well-written "thriller", Christine wakes up every day unsure of who she is, unable to believe she is the middle-aged woman in the mirror. She can't remember her husband or the life they led together. She can't remember anything. Eventually she finds a journal and learns she has been seeking answers and then the book builds to an interesting climax that I won't reveal here.

This story is solid and engaging, but I just never got the spine-tingling thrill I had expected. It was an interesting read, and I did enjoy it, but the lack of real tension as the book moved towarded the big denouement made it easy to put down when interrupted. I was left feeling vaguely let down and dissatisfied which is why I'm only giving it 3.5 stars.
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