Over the summer I read the psychological thriller, Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. This book had been getting a lot of buzz, and I was in the mood for a book that would capture me. And this one delivered.
Before I Go to Sleep is the story of Christine, a woman with a form of amnesia in which all her memories since her twenties are wiped every night when she sleeps. Each morning she awakes in a foreign house and must face the aged face in the mirror. Each morning her husband, Ben, must explain the life that they lead together. And each night Christine sets her head down to sleep and forgets it all. But then she starts a journal. And inside she writes “Don’t Trust Ben”.
The greatest strength of the story is the masterful pacing. Yes, it is slightly repetitive- after all, Christine must rediscover herself everyday. But this only lends itself the the fantastically sinister tone of the novel. Watson does a superb job of timing each new revelation, each new event, so that the reader is anticipating the turn of every page. Christine is engaging, as is her therapist, Dr. Nash.
But the story isn’t perfect. If you read it, you will realize that the premise itself is a bit implausible. I agree. Shake off your disbelief and enjoy the ride. I will also say that I feel like amnesia is becoming a recurrent plot device. Finally, I’d avoid working too hard to “solve” the story, and just emerse yourself completely in Christine’s journey, because Watson succeeds more in this than in coming up with a perfect resolution.