Every morning Christine wakes up with her memory wiped clean. Some days she can remember her twenties, some days she’s still a child. She wakes up next to a man she does not know in a room she doesn’t recognise. When a doctor approaches her wishing to study her amnesia she starts a journal. He phones her each day to tell her of its existence. Underneath her name she has written “DON’T TRUST BEN”.
It’s been some time since I’ve read a book that I really don’t want to put down. I stayed up later reading it and was frustrated when my lunch break ended just as the climax was approaching. It truly is a gripping read. At first I felt for Christine’s husband, Ben. To have to live with the woman you love and not be recognised. To have to explain her life to her each day and deal with her grief and confusion is heartbreaking. Then those words in her journal, her advice not to trust him, arouses suspicion and he starts to seem too good to be true.
The mystery is Christine’s missing memory. The crime is the event which caused it. Whilst I had a pretty good idea of what was going on about midway, it’s not obvious and the need to be proved right and to find out what happens to Christine, will keep you reading at a brisk pace!
Her situation is truly terrifying and it is an unsettling read. Memory is what makes us us. The doctor does explain she is a rare case but for those that are sceptical a quick google will reveal numerous accounts of amnesia suffers, some with hard to believe conditions. In his author’s note, SJ Watson mentions two real life cases that he based Christine’s condition on, Clive Wearing and Henry Gustav Molaison, and the accounts of her early days are clearly drawing from these. However the fact that she can remember whole days appears to be a plot device rather thank something well documented but the mind is a mysterious thing so it could easily be possible. I think if you can just accept her condition, you will be transfixed by this fantastic debut novel.
Before I Go To Sleep is now available in regular paperback as well as ebook formats in the UK and is published by Black Swan. Many thanks to Transworld for sending me a copy to review. The book has an official hashtag so if you’d like to follow discussions on Twitter use #B4IGTS.
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