Before I Go To Sleep – S. J. Watson [REVIEW]

I’m sorry lovely people, I’ve been slacking recently! I spent the weekend at Crimefest15 in Bristol, and then celebrated my birthday, so have had very little time for typing up my thoughts. Stay tuned for a post all about Crimefest, along with an appropriate Book Haul post as well, but for now I’m going to get myself a bit more caught up with book reviews.

It’s an older book today, one I’ve had sitting on my shelf for a while. Another one (like Gone Girl) that I’m kicking myself for not having read it sooner. Oh well, better late than never!

BIGTSTitle: Before I Go To Sleep

Author: S. J. Watson

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Black Swan (2 Jan. 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0552164135

ISBN-13: 978-0552164139


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.

BIGTS tells the story of Christine, a woman who wakes up every morning with no memory of the last 20+ years, who has to be told every morning that the man beside her is her husband, that she had an accident, that she is happy. Christine can’t help being afraid. And it turns out, she’s been keeping a journal. She’s been meeting a doctor. Both in secret from her husband, Ben. She has been living a whole other life he doesn’t know about, and she is forced to question what this means. Is she who she thinks she is?

And in the front of her journal is a note in her own handwriting. It says, “Don’t trust Ben.” But is Christine’s journal reliable? Is it truthful? And why does it seem like Ben is lying to her?

Before I Go To Sleep is a masterful story told in the first person, demonstrating clear voice and clean style – and developing tension and a sense of foreboding from the very first words. There’s a lot to be enjoyed in this novel, from Christine’s own determination despite her uncertainty to Ben’s unwavering devotion, despite the lies he tells her… The novel is a heady mix of scary, tense, and heartbreaking, and consumed an entire two days of my life. I gave them gladly. ❤

What I liked:

1. Christine’s Voice

I think one of the things Watson has really achieved with this novel is creating a character who we are simultaneously fearful for and frustrated with; I admired Christine’s strength, but often found myself cursing her condition as I began to piece together the clues that she couldn’t see. Watson’s writing is fabulous, igniting in just a few words the feelings of memories just out of reach, of the claustrophobia and tension that seep into everyday activities when you don’t know yourself never mind the man you are living with. I was proud for Christine when she was courageous, and sad for her when I saw the life she could have lived if not for her memory loss. So heartbreaking.

2. The Twist (No spoilers!)

I know a lot of people have felt pretty ambiguously about this one, but I’m going to have to disagree. Yes, I saw it coming. But that happens to me a lot, so it’s not something that often upsets or frustrates me – especially if the execution is there. Because I ended up reading this book so quickly, I felt that the pace moved forward at such a rate that I didn’t have time to contemplate whether I was annoyed that I’d figured out the ending, I just sat back and enjoyed watching the threads unravel and Christine make her own discoveries. And yes, there were also a few elements I wasn’t expecting as well, which was nice.

What I didn’t like:

1.The Ending

Although I’ve said that figuring out the twist early didn’t bother me, I will say that something about the ending didn’t sit 100% right with me. I think perhaps this is personal taste though, because I admire endings with a particular haunting quality. And this novel was just too… convenient? I guess? In the end, everything is perhaps a bit too positive. I liked my tortured characters to stay tortured, if only a little bit, and although a lot of people might prefer a more upbeat ending, I don’t. Still, it’s not something that hugely coloured my reading, so I suggest you give it a shot anyway!

All in all, this was a great read. It was quick, fun, fairly pacey and unpredictable enough in places that I wasn’t 100% spoilered by my brain. Overall, I’d recommend!


4-5 star

P.S. I haven’t seen the film. Is it any good?


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