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Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2012
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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)
Top customer reviews
“What our we if not an accumulation of our memories?”
How terrifying would it be to wake every day in a room you do not recognize? To see a man you do not know. To look in the mirror and see the face of someone 20 years older than you think you are.
For Christine Lucas, in Before I go to sleep by S. J. Watson, this is the life she lives every day. “My mind was empty. Scooped out.” According to her husband, Ben, she had an accident: She was hit by a car. She lost her memory. She has lived this way for 20 years.
Twenty years of waking up with no memories of any of her life. Starting over every day.
Terror. That is how I would describe it.
She has, unknown to Ben, started seeing Dr. Nash who has encouraged her to keep a journal. He calls her each day and reminds her of where it is. She reads it and blanks are filled in to the holes in her memory. For that day. The journal seems to be helping.
But one day when she opens it there is a message written in her own hand:
“Don’t trust Ben.”
She is torn between the glimpses of memory that she has written down and the things that Ben tells her each day. Should she trust him? There is no one to ask. No one to verify the facts of her life, except Ben.
With a conclusion that I absolutely did not see coming, this book made me really think about the things that we take for granted every day: Our lives, our families, and our memories.
When I began reading Before I go to sleep by S. J. Watson, I had an experience not unlike Christine Lucas, the main character. There was something that I thought I remembered about the story line. But I could not put my finger on it.
There were small clicks where I felt I had read this story before. So I finally followed Christine’s advice and did a little research. There was a 2014 movie starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Aha! I remembered seeing it. But I didn’t remember how it ended. And besides, everyone knows the book is always better!
So I continued to read. And I am so happy that I did!
I highly recommend this book if you are looking for sheer suspense. For an ending that is more than twisted.
The story did seem to sag a bit in the middle, when it teetered a little into repetitive 'Groundhog Day' territory, but I kept going and was rewarded as the narrative began to build momentum toward the conclusion. The payoff is worth it, though I would have liked more interpolation at the end!
I didn't realize until looking at some reviews afterward that they made a movie based on this book with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. And now I'm really curious to see Hollywood's interpretation of this unusual plot.
Eventually, Christine begins seeing a doctor in secret, writing down her daily experiences in the hopes of recovering her memory. As she reads her journal each day, she begins to find inconsistencies in the stories her husband tells her. Is he lying to her? And, if so, why?
If you're looking for a plot-driven, suspense- this might be a good choice. The plot twist at the end was something I did not see coming and I had that great moment where a book gives goosebumps on the scalp.
However, if you enjoy character-driven fiction where you connect with a story- this is not it. Perhaps by virtue of her condition, you never even get to know the main character. She doesn't remember who she is and is in a constant primal state of fear and confusion. She trusts no one and neither does the reader. None of the characters are people you understand or root for, including Christine.
In the end, I was disappointed by this read and probably would not recommend it.
-Katie O'Rourke, author of Monsoon Season
Most recent customer reviews
It is a quick read and not high for a literary piece of prose but it lingers in my mind when I finished...Read more