Book Review

Book Review : Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson.

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

I’ve blogged already about the brilliant marketing behind S J Watson’s debut novel, once I’d opened the padlock I couldn’t wait to start reading. I settled down with a coffee and began to read, I quickly got so caught up in the book that I didn’t move again until I’d finished it. Once I had finished reading I sat for a while amazed by what I had just read.

The plot of the book is very clever, Christine is suffering with amnesia – she wakes up every morning not recognising herself or her husband or knowing anything about how she’s come to be there. Ben, her husband explains each morning who he is and what has happened to her, and Christine lives the day before going to sleep and forgetting it all again. The sheer panic and confusion she experiences at the start of the book when she wakes up with these memories missing is hard to read, and when you realise that this happens to her and her husband every single day it feels quite heartbreaking.

We quickly discover that Christine has been seeing a doctor in secret and he’s encouraged her to keep a journal. Each day he calls to tell her where the journal is hidden, she catches up with everything she’s previously written and adds to it. We join Christine in catching up with her journal after she’s lent it to her doctor. You can almost sense the urgency Christine has written this journal with, I found I was feeling the same sort of urgency to keep reading, to find out the secrets it contains. I read faster and faster, desperate to turn the pages quicker and uncover more if the story.

A few times through the book I started to formulate an idea of where the book was going, each time I was wrong. The final section of the book is wonderfully twisty, whilst I’d guessed one bit of it I’d barely scraped the surface of what really went on. Just as I’d managed to catch my breath I came to the last little bit and had it stolen away again.

The promotional material I’d received and the cover of the book contain lots of quotes about how wonderful this book is. I don’t normally pay much attention to these but I have to say that for Before I Go To Sleep they’re all well deserved. It is an absolutely brilliant book, when I finished reading it I was torn between wanting to sit and process it and wanting to jump up and down telling everyone around me how brilliant it is. I settled for saving the jumping up and down for this post – I didn’t want to scare the other people in the cafe! I can’t believe this is S J Watson’s first book, I can’t wait for the next one!

Before I Go To Sleep is published in hardback by Doubleday in the UK priced £12.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

6 thoughts on “Book Review : Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson.

  1. Ooh. I have a review up today about another book that deals with memory loss and I’ve written a post of some of my favourite books to do with the same subject later in the week. I think it’s something I’m drawn to, both because I have a bad memory and also because I find the processes of storing and retrieving memory to be fascinating. So this one looks really good. Until you’d mentioned it in your review I hadn’t really thought of how terrifying it would be to wake up in the morning without any of that knowledge *shudder* I shall be looking out for this one, thanks!

    1. I have memory loss as a result of my health problems, though pretty minor in comparison with this, so I found it utterly compelling reading.

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