Before I go to Sleep – SJ Watson

SJ Watson has just been voted Amazon’s Rising Star for the second quarter of 2011, his debut novel Before I go to Sleep has been sold in 30 different languages and Ridley Scott will soon start filming the big screen version.  Not bad for a debut novel but does the end product match the hype?

There have been quite a few commercially successful films about memory loss in recent years, Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Groundhog Day come to mind, but I was  intrigued by the concept of Before I go to Sleep and wondered how the author could pull off this complex plot-line.  Christine, wakes up every morning beside a strange man with a ring on his finger, every morning she is surprised to see a 40 something reflected in the mirror instead of the more youthful 20 year old she is anticipating.  Could this be a case of a drunken one night stand which has caused temporary memory loss?  Alas, the truth is less palatable as it turns out that the stranger is, in fact, her husband Ben and Christine has spent the past 20 years or so trapped in a Groundhog Day cycle, with each new day’s memories being automatically erased when she sleeps.  So, how can we know her story if she can’t remember anything?  Well, she starts to keep a journal, meticulously recording the events of each day and any newly acquired information in the hope of building a picture of her lost years.  But who can she really trust?  Are her husband and the mysterious Dr Nash really acting in her best interests?

This is an extremely impressive debut novel, I can’t help admiring how cleverly the author has structured the narrative, feeding us crumbs of information to keep us tantalised, drawing us into the capricious world of Christine.  Some readers might find the excessive detail of Christine’s journal, including tremendous  amounts of dialogue, a step beyond the boundaries of credibility but, for me, this is a minor niggle far outweighed by the compelling, meticulously plotted narrative.   A really satisfying, enjoyable read guaranteed to keep you up till the wee small hours.

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3 Comments

  1. Lainy says:

    Treez I love this review! I haven’t heard of this author although have seen the title floating about Risi and never clicked on it. Every day I click on one of my follow blogs and head over for a visit and I am so glad yours is today. Will go and pop this on my wishlist before I forget as I definately want to read it now!

    Thanx Lainy

    P.s I have seen momento and it does sound like that although she uses a journal instead of tattoos :D

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Lainy, since my recent bout of reader’s block (over now, touch wood..) I haven’t really had time to look at other blogs and with the kids off now for the summer hols I doubt I will have any spare time on my hands! I think you’ll really like this one! Txx

  3. Annabel says:

    I just read this book too and felt exactly the same way about this book.

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