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

Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S. J. Watson
Published by Black Swan, 2011

How I discovered this book:  I saw this book on a charity shop and it called to me. You know when a book just calls to you? Well, that’s what happened. Plus, cross(stitch)yourheart told me this book was really worth it, specially if you don’t figure out the ending. So, here we are. 🙂

Review: I rarely read crime and thriller novels. I really like the genre in a TV series or movies, although I try to avoid it in books. Why? Because they usually fail to keep me interested until the end. Despite this fact, I do like to read a crime novel once in a while and I’m very happy with my experience reading Before I Go To Sleep. This book is a page turner! I was really missing a thriller that would keep me hooked until the very last page.

The book reads as the journal of Christine, our main character. She wakes up every day not knowing what happened in the past decades of her life. Sometimes she wakes up thinking she is a child, other days she wakes up thinking she is a young woman in her twenties. The truth is that Christine is a middle-aged woman who loses her memory every time she goes to sleep. She lives with Ben, the man she learns every morning that is her husband.

One day Christine is approached by a doctor that says he might have a way to help her fight her illness. They decide to meet in secret, since Ben doesn’t believe in a cure for his wife, not after so many failed treatments and therapies. Despite of that, Christine decides to try again and start writing a journal in secret, as part of her treatment. It is her journal that we read, and by it we discover with Christine that things my not be what they look like at first sight. In fact, she might be in danger.

The fact that we are living each day almost as if we’re inside Christine’s body just adds to the adrenaline rush. Like her, we don’t know what happened before. We discover everything with her!There’s no other perspective of the facts. You see and feel everything through the eyes of an amnesic. Because of this narrative construction, you are automatically dragged to the turmoil that is Chrissy’s mind, trying to put the pieces of her shattered life together. Watson really did a wonderful job describing our main character inner turmoil, her suspicions, her vulnerability, her distress with everything that’s happening to her. Christine feels completely lost and helpless. There are times when she even wants to give up on life and I must say that I think Watson wrote all these feelings and thoughts really well, specially considering that he his a man writing a story that puts you inside the head of a woman, who is really completely lost and lives every day intensely for the first time. I think that what I’m trying to say is that he managed to write a book that goes beyond the thriller story line, giving us a profound insight of what is like to be an amnesic and how such a person would experience daily life when it comes to grief, the lost of a son, sex, married life, professional success, etc.

Now, I have to tell you that, despite being unable to put the book down, I didn’t really bought this amnesia symptoms. Your memory is erased when you go to sleep and once in a while you can remember bits and bits of stuff that happened before? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. Sounds a lot more like trauma and repressed memories than some physical disability in the brain. Probably Watson did this on purpose, to get us suspicious that there was more in the picture. Still, most of the time I was one step ahead of Christine and the big mystery wasn’t a big surprise. Actually, while I was reading I came up with several theories for what was happening to Christine. I changed my mind often about which theory was most likely to be right, but I did get it all before the end. Yes, I changed my mind later, because Christine’s thoughts influenced me to do so, but the end wasn’t a complete shock. Still, I liked the thrill of the journey enough to be ok with it.

One more thing. While I was reading this book I caught myself thinking “Now, this would be a good movie”. I just visited the author’s website and this book will indeed be adapted to the screen! Apparently, Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth will play Christine and Ben. I think they suit the characters well. Now I’m excited for the movie!

Overall: A really addictive book! Very intense and profound when it comes to the main character’s journey of discovering of her own history and taking back the reins of her life. Although the ending might be a little predictable, it is still an enjoyable book to read. I definitely recommend it!

*Thank you cross(stitch)yourheart!! I did enjoy it!*


Quotes worth mentioning: 

 “What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?” 

“Thoughts race, as if, in a mind devoid of memory, each idea has too much space to grow and move, to collide with others in a shower of sparks before spinning off into its own distance.” 

“This is dying everyday. Over and over.” 


4 thoughts on “Review: Before I Go To Sleep, by S. J. Watson

  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed it! I agree it’s the journey that makes this book so good, the ending isn’t much, but everything else is enjoyable.

    • Thank you for giving me the final incentive to start reading it! I did enjoyed this book a lot than I thought I would. Some of the theories I came up with to explain what was happening were pretty crazy. 🙂 And I feel that I’m more open to crime novels and thrillers after reading this one. I’m definitely going to pay attention to your recommendations on this genre!

  2. Pingback: MAIWADA’S MUDOSKI: THOUGHTS | Su'eddie in Life n Literature

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