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Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel by S. J.…
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Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2012)

by S. J. Watson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,5653271,482 (3.74)1 / 181
Member:kayceel
Title:Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel
Authors:S. J. Watson
Info:Harper Paperbacks (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Adult
Rating:****1/2
Tags:memory loss, mystery, suspense, 2012, women authors, identity, amnesiacs, journaling

Work details

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson (2011)

  1. 81
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (becksdakex)
  2. 10
    Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse (fannyprice)
  3. 10
    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (fannyprice)
    fannyprice: Similarly unreliable, damaged women trying to reconstruct their lives.
  4. 00
    Black Out by Lisa Unger (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The women in Before I Go To Sleep and Black Out are suffering from amnesia. They must piece together their identities in order to escape from threatening and disturbing forces at work in their lives.
  5. 00
    Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (JenMDB)
  6. 00
    After The Fall by Sarah Goodwin (GirlMisanthrope)
  7. 11
    Little Face by Sophie Hannah (DeeDee80)
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Showing 1-5 of 308 (next | show all)
Christine does not remember most of her life. Every morning she wakes up next to a stranger who tells her he is her husband, Ben. Every day he explains to he that she has amnesia. And every night, when she sleeps, she forgets everything that happened that day, too. But then, at the urging of a doctor, she begins to keep a secret journal that provides her with an artificial memory of recent days. And sometime during those days, she's scrawled "Don't trust Ben" in the front of the journal.

It's a fantastic setup for novel, the kind that promises creepy, slowly revealed secrets and deep emotional tension. Plus, the cover is plastered with blurbs praising how heart-stopping and nerve-jangling and page-turning it is. So I went into it looking to have my heart stopped and my nerves jangled, and such, and... it kind of didn't happen.

The writing isn't great, but that wasn't really the problem. None of the big, surprising twists felt all that surprising, but I don't think that's the problem, either. The problem is that none of it felt real to me. And I don't mean the fact that amnesia just doesn't work that way. I was actually OK with that, after a line from a doctor about Christine's condition not fitting our current understanding of memory convinced me that the author wasn't proceeding from ignorance, but instead knowingly fudging the medical facts for the sake of the story. I was willing to go with that. It was everything else that bugged me. Stuff like the fact that Christine's doctor seems to have no patients but her to worry about and is free to spend big chunks of his work day dropping by her house and taking her on memory-jogging field trips.

But the biggest problem was Christine herself. She just never felt emotionally believable to me as someone going through the things she's going through. She talks a lot about her thoughts and feelings, but it all feels sort of... hollow. I'm not sure I ever really believed there was a person in there. And without any deep sense of empathy for her, I was more irritated by her than concerned about her. Which made it kind of hard for my nerves to get tingly for her. ( )
1 vote bragan | Jul 28, 2015 |
Every morning Christine awakens with limited memories of her life.Sometimes she awakens thinking she is but a little girl in her childhood bedroom, other times maybe she's a teen. Sometimes she may see a man standing in her room and expect when he turns around she'll recognize her father. However the man in her room is always a stranger, and when she looks at herself in the mirror, she sees what she thinks is an old woman instead of a young girl.

Christine suffers from a rare form of amnesia, causing her to lose her memory while she sleeps at night (think Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates). She awakens in the morning not knowing the man who sleeps beside her, or how she aged decades, or what has transpired during those decades.

Christine keeps a journal hidden away, documenting what happens each day, what she learns of her past. Then one day she takes out her journal and it warns her not to trust her husband. Now she begins to question everything. Who can be trusted? Are these people who they say they are?

My final word: I made a prediction on the second page of the story regarding how I thought it would end, and it turned out that I was essentially correct. However even though I knew where the book was going and my final destination, I kept reading to find out what kind of trip the author would take me on to get me there. It was interesting. Not fantastic writing, complex characters or breathtaking suspense, but an enjoyable enough fast read. ( )
  nfmgirl2 | Jul 23, 2015 |
Christine Lucas wakes up every morning with no memory of what happened yesterday, or the day before, or in many of the previous years of her life. When she sleeps her memory is virtually erased. Keeping a diary helps. She leaves a note to herself to read the diary, and then every morning after the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing someone so much older than she is looking back, she reads the words written in her own handwriting. She manages to cope from day to day with the loving help of Ben, her devoted husband. Imagine her shock when she opens her diary one day and reads the words … “DON’T TRUST BEN”.

Although this scenario has been explored in other books and movies, in every style from comedy to thriller this book absolutely holds its own. Christine’s pain is tangible to the reader and we follow Christine side-by-side and step-by-step as she begins to unravel the mystery of her own diary. It’s hard to say any more without posting a spoiler alert at the top of the review. Before I Go To Sleep is well worth the reading time if you want to find out any more. I loved this book and would definitely list it among my favorite reads of 2011.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Nice suspense thriller with a good plot twist. Lot's of people here are saying that they saw it coming from "way before". But I didn't. I feel satisfied with the plot overall and the ending too. Yes there were some plot loopholes no doubt but hey, most stories have a loophole. So I couldn't care much about the loophole. Overall awesome suspense this book! I was truly gripped into it. ( )
  MugenHere | Jul 12, 2015 |
I adore this book. It had sat on my bookshelf for ages, not something I ever thought I'd actually pick up and read, until a friend of mine spotted it and started raving about it. So I picked it up and literally couldnt put it down again. This is the book I will hold accountable for my regained love of reading. It is amazing.

I will say here that losing my memory is one of my biggest fears, and this book did absolutely nothing to make that fear any better.

It is a thriller in the truest sense of the word, the whole time you know somethings not quite right, you feel it in the pit of your stomach that something must be terribly wrong, but I for one didnt work it out until just before the reveal.

The protagonist's vulnerability means you become quite protective over her as you read, and that adds to the unnerving sense of something being off. You fear for her, you want everything to work out and for her to have her happy ending and of course to be cured. I've not known a book in so long to have me screaming at the pages, wanting her to listen "Don't go to sleep! Don't do it!"

The ending is satisfying, and open, so you can believe what you want about what happened to the characters.

Fantastic book. Five stars. ( )
  chimocho | Jul 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 308 (next | show all)
What if you woke up every morning, confused and lost? What if the body you woke up in was not the body you remember going to sleep in? What if you were oblivious to the events of the last 30 years of your life? Memories are what define all of us as people. But when you wake up, tangled in lies, visions and fleeting images of memories that seem to dark and fiction to seem real, how do you make sense of that?

Welcome to the life of Christine Lucas, a middle aged woman suffering from extreme amnesia, who has no memory of what happened in her life for her past 30 years. When she sleeps, her memory melts away, like snow on a spring day.

The highly acclaimed, internationally best seller is truly a suspenseful, interesting and gripping book that will keep you entertained for all 356 pages of it. For lovers of Mysteries, this is a must read book, and I highly recommend it to everybody.
added by davidboot | editEnglish 9, David Boot (Jan 28, 2013)
 
What if you woke up every morning, confused and lost, and unfamiliar with your own reflection in the mirror? What would you do when you wake up, tangled in lies, visions and fleeting images of memories that seem to dark and fiction to seem real?

Welcome to the life of Christine Lucas, a victim of an unsettling accident leaving her unable to retain memories for longer than 24 hours. When she sleeps, her memory melts away, like snow on a spring day. Keeping a diary of her daily events, she fits the pieces of her life puzzle together; she reaches a disturbing conclusion.

The Journal style format of this book creates a truly unique style of writing, one that truly pulls you into the struggles of Christine’s daily life. The narration gives the reader a striking insight into the daily battle of discovering her identity. However, the style of daily journal entries can make the book slow at parts, but much like a roller coaster, it is all simply preparation for the plunge of excitement.

For lovers of mysteries and psychological thrillers, this is a must read book. However, I still highly recommend it to everybody. The sudden flashbacks, the distorted images and the faint impression that things are not at all what they seem. This book will make you rethink all of your unclear memories; it will keep you extremely entertained.

added by davidboot | editEnglish 9, David Boot (Jan 27, 2013)
 
The ending feels hurried; a sentimental postscript to the meticulously plotted main event. But these are minor gripes. Before I Go to Sleep is an enjoyable and impressive first novel. Like the best of its thematic predecessors, it is also an affecting moral allegory: don't forget your loved ones. Or else.
 
The most unnerving aspect of Before I Go to Sleep is the way it is rooted in the domestic, the suburban, the trivial. Forget whizz-bang futurism: it proceeds from ordinary life in tiny, terrifying steps, and is all the better for it.
 
Watson’s pitch-perfect writing propels the story to a frenzied climax that will haunt readers long after they’ve closed the cover on this remarkable book.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 1, 2011)
 
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Epigraph
I was born tomorrow
today I live
yesterday killed me


—PARVIZ OWSIA
Dedication
For my mother, and for Nicholas
First words
The bedroom is strange.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...

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.

Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis — all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac.

With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion.

What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? And, for the reader: Can Christine’s story be trusted?

Haiku summary
To Christine, each day
Is a blank page. Who can she
Trust? Can we trust her?
(passion4reading)

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An amnesiac attempts to reconstruct her past by keeping a journal and discovers the dangerous inconsistencies in the stories of her husband and her secret doctor.

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