Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel
by S.J. Watson, read by Orlagh Cassidy, Harper Audio, 11 hrs, 35 minutes, June, 2014
...until the very last pages of the book I couldn’t figure this one out
This is a debut novel for S.J. Watson and it is a good one. The plot involves Christine, a 47 year old amnesiac who wakes up each day with no memory of her life. Her husband Ben is a stranger to her. Each day he explains to her that she had a terrible accident that robbed her of the ability to retain memories after she falls asleep each night. Christine works with a new doctor who encourages her to write a journal each day so she can revisit the memories she has developed. Inconsistencies in her story between what her doctor tells her and what her husband tells her cause her to question what is true and what might be false memories. She reads in the front of her diary in her own hand the words “Don’t trust Ben”. And that is all of the plot you need to know!
This story is really well done. It plays with your understanding of memory and subconscious thoughts much as Christopher Nolan’s films Memento and Inception do. The narrator is possibly unreliable and that adds to the mystery in this tale. You are never sure what is a real memory and what might be a fabricated one and neither is the narrator. There is a real writing skill needed when Christine must retell her story each day and not leave the reader bored to tears in the telling. The author accomplishes this brilliantly with exceptionally good pacing and prose. As Christine’s knowledge widens she is left unsure who she might trust, her doctor, her husband, her old friend. The story progresses from a psychological drama of an amnesiac to a full fledged suspense thriller. Up until the very last pages of the book I couldn’t figure this one out. Surely will be a major motion picture made from this one! Can’t wait to see what S.J.Watson writes next.
I listened to the audio version of this story real by Orlagh Cassidy. She was a perfect voice for this novel, conveying a range of emotions from puzzlement to panic with great skill.
I listened to an audio copy of this novel provided by the publisher.