Posts Tagged ‘literary thriller’

Before I go to Sleep – SJ Watson

Posted in Thriller on July 5th, 2011 by admin – 3 Comments

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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