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Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson
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Before I Go To Sleep (original 2011; edition 2012)

by S J Watson

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3,1242861,801 (3.74)1 / 143
Mumineurope's review
Chris wakes up every morning not knowing who she is. Psychological thriller. Went on a bit to long and saw ending coming. ( )
  Mumineurope | Apr 19, 2012 |
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Ilmselt siis, kui raamat ilmus ja pealkiri meediast läbi jooksis- jäi see mind kummitama. Ilma, et ma oleks teadnud, millest lugu räägib, sai sest mulle nagu mingi mantra: Ei Tohi Magama Jääda.
Kuna mind on karistatud küllusliku unevajadusega, oli seda enda korrale kutsumiseks hea kasutada.

Loe edasi
http://indigoaalane.blogspot.com/2014/03/sj-watson-ei-tohi-magama-jaada.html ( )
  Indigoaalane | Jul 18, 2014 |
Good thriller. ( )
  INorris | Jun 22, 2014 |
Before I Go To Sleep is both a suspenseful, intriguing page turner. But also a reasonably pedestrian, reasonably predictable unfolding of a premise. I enjoyed it, would recommend it, but it was nowhere near the level of spine tingling amazement one can get with a good book by Ruth Rendell, Harlan Coben, or many others.

The book begins when a woman wakes up wondering who the man next to her in bed is. Then she learns that he is her husband, she has a peculiar form of amnesia that resets her memory every night when she goes to sleep, leaving her unable to remember anything before about college. So every day she has to start from scratch, learning her husband, her way around the house, forming new memories that get erased in the morning.

The woman, Christine, meets with a doctor who hands her a journal she has been keeping of her memories over the previous several weeks. And then the suspense begins.

The book feels workmanlike because the journal reads like a novel, the clues are obvious and surrounded with the literary equivalents of neon lights, and everything unfolds somewhat slowly and predictably. It feels like the author could have done more with his premise, the device of a journal, and the unreliability of memory.

That said, it is still a page turner and leaves one fascinated about what life would be like if every day began from scratch. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Before I Go to Sleep was very successful for me - unsettling and engrossing. Written primarily as a series of journal entries recorded by a woman who has lost both her memory of her past and her ability to form new memories, this book was so unsettling and really made me think about how vulnerable and isolated people with more realistic disabilities and chronic medical conditions can be. Christine wakes up every morning with no memory of who she is, how old she is, where she is, who the man in bed beside her is. Each morning she must relearn these things by looking at photos her husband has taped to the bathroom mirror and listening to his retelling of her past. She has been in this condition for nearly 20 years, since being the victim of a hit and run, according to her husband.

Well, of course, things are not as they seem, or we wouldn't be reading this book. Christine discovers that she's been seeing a psychologist behind Ben (her husband)'s back and - at the psychologist's suggestion - keeping a secret journal. He calls her every day to tell her where to find it and remind her to write in it. When the book opens, Christine has re-discovered her journal, started reading and found scrawled inside the cover a message to herself "Don't Trust Ben." So she begins to read, to attempt to figure out what is going on in her life. What she finds reveals a pattern of lies and inconsistencies that at first are explained away by Ben, Christine, and the psychologist as Ben's attempt to shield Christine from everything that she has lost because of the accident and prevent her from reliving these losses every day. Christine reads that (according to Ben), she has a history of paranoia and dissociative behavior; this, combined with the fact that she cannot remember writing down the words in her own journal, leads her to question the journal's veracity as well. Is she being manipulated? By whom? Is she simply nuts?

I thought this way of conveying information was very clever. At first, the reader - like Christine - only knows what Christine is told or what she reads. But because the reader - unlike Christine - can remember things and more easily see connections and inconsistencies, the truth will dawn on the reader long before it comes to Christine. Some readers found this annoying, I thought it worked to underscore how vulnerable Christine was and heighten the tension.

The one major weak point was the ending, which seemed at first to be rather unbelievable and neat - everything is resolved, the heroine has come through a traumatic experience relatively unscathed and everyone is happy. But the more I reflected on this, the more I wondered if the ending could also be read as actually fairly dark. It seemed possible to me that the author meant the reader to once again split his/her perspective from Christine's and see that while everything has been neatly wrapped up from Christine's point of view, the reader should remember Christine's earlier acceptance of simplistic explanations and be wary of seeing this as a happy, tidy ending.

Major plot spoilers providing more specific detail related to this line of thinking follow. Perhaps I am just fooling myself, attributing more cleverness to the author than is warranted, but otherwise the ending is just too shiny in a way that strains credulity. Christine's real husband (yes, the Ben that she spends most of her time with in the book is, of course, not really her husband) has an affair with her best friend, divorces her, leaves her for nearly 20 years, and then suddenly appears revealing he's never stopped loving her and Christine is like "oh, ok, great." No questions asked, now they're back together again? How can the reader not think of everything Christine is ignoring that is wrong in this situation? Or the fact that Christine was waltzed out of a home for disabled people nearly four months ago by a man claiming to be her husband and her supposed best friend and her grown son didn't notice and didn't try to contact her or her husband during this time? Her friend dismisses the lack of contact with the son as "he's been busy and it's far away" and Christine accepts that weak-a$$ explanation just like she accepted fake Ben's other weak-a$$ explanations. That's too f*cked up for me to believe it's a plot hole the author just didn't notice. Christine may not be in the same kind of dangerous charade of a life as before, but I cannot believe that the reader is meant to accept that everything is now ok. Even if we're meant to believe that she is regaining her memory - which could also be a lie, since she's remembered and forgotten things before and can only rely on her unreliable journal and the claims of others on the matter of her memory - she is still incredibly isolated and vulnerable and utterly dependent on others.

With my reading of the ending of this book, I'd give it five stars. ( )
1 vote fannyprice | Jun 15, 2014 |
4.5 stars! This book grabbed me from beginning... What a ride! ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
“What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?”

“This is dying everyday. Over and over.”

A woman wakes up in a strange bed, with a strange man, lying beside her. She pads into the unfamiliar bathroom but does not recognize the person reflected in the mirror.
This has become Christine Lucas's life...every single day. She begins to keep a daily journal and fills in her memories and her life finally begins to take shape, but there are questions and shadowy gaps. What type of accident caused this scary malady? Who is her husband? Why is he lying?

I loved the premise of this psychological mystery, (I don't think this qualifies as a thriller) and I enjoyed the way the first half unfolded but I think it began to bog down in the last third, leaving me somewhat dissatisfied by then end. I will still recommend it and I know many other readers were perfectly happy with it. Also, if you were a fan of the excellent film “Memento”, you might also want to give this one a shot. ( )
2 vote msf59 | May 20, 2014 |
I read this in a 24hr time period. It's incredibly addictive. ( )
  VanSel | May 13, 2014 |
Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep—the result of a car accident and a severe head trauma. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he must explain to her their life together on a daily basis. With the encouragement of a new doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory and so that some of her memories will be retained. 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. Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? Can Christine herself be trusted to be telling the truth? I loved the first-person narrative and the often conflicting episodes of memory resurrections. The ending was a surprise—though I had some suspicion of what was coming about 2/3 into the book. A fast paced book with a compelling plot. 4 out of 5 stars. ( )
  marsap | Apr 4, 2014 |
S.J. Wilson’s debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep attracted much attention on it’s debut in 2011, winning the author a legion of awards, fans, and a movie contract, due for release later this year (2014), starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.

A taut psychological thriller, Before I Go To Sleep tells the story of Christine Lucas, who each morning looks in the mirror to find her face aged by time she can’t recall passing, while a strange man, who claims to be her loving husband, Ben, patiently explains she experienced a traumatic brain injury nearly two decades ago and as a result suffers a rare type of amnesia obliterating much of her past and able to accumulate memories only for as long as she remains awake. As each day wears on, Christine struggles to understand what has happened to her, until, each day, Dr Nash calls and reminds her to read her journal, secreted in a shoebox in her wardrobe. A journal where underneath her name, on the very first page, she has written ‘DON’T TRUST BEN’.

As the story unfolds, so does the mystery of all Christine has forgotten. Her journal reveals lies, half truths and betrayals but can she trust the secrets spilling across the pages? Watson masterfully builds the tension with each revelation, each contradiction, each truth and each lie.

The narrative is infused with Christine’s confusion, fear and panic as she negotiates her past and present. Without her memory she is extraordinarily vulnerable to the manipulations of others and it is frighteningly easy to imagine yourself in her place.

Though some suspension of belief is required for elements of the plot to work, I found I was more than willing to do so. I turned the pages eagerly, caught up in the breathless pace leading to the shocking denouement.

Before I Go To Sleep is a clever, complex thriller that hooked me from the first page and kept me engrossed to the very last. ( )
1 vote shelleyraec | Apr 1, 2014 |
The book started off a little slow for me, and multiple times throughout the book I had a lot of ups and downs with it. While some aspects and clues pulled me in and had me gripping the pages, other times I found myself bored with the book and found it to be a little repetitive. But, by the time it ended it was well worth reading.

I enjoyed trying to guess the truth behind Christine's story and what happened to her. Parts of the book and how the plot was revealed were surprising but, I did start to predict what was going to happen in the end. The author did an excellent job at showing the reading the psychological and emotional struggle Christine goes through during the story, but I did find it hard to connect to her. I think this is partly due to her condition and basically it's a restart for her every day, and at times for the reader, but I felt there were many times where her development was stalled.

I did have a bit of an issue with the plausibility of the ending, I can't go into detail without spoiling the book, but I don't believe it could have happened the way it was explained. The would have been certain factors would have made it impossible for it to happen the way it did. But, it was still a very creepy book in the end. The ending does leave a lot of things unsettled, but I think it worked for the type of book it is, and the condition Christine has.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. A bit creepy and disturbing at times, but it made for a fun read.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Before I Go to Sleep ( )
  bookwormjules | Mar 22, 2014 |
Compelling. Very enjoyable. Still, in the long run it turns into fluff. Not that it's a bad thing.

Good airplane/beach reading. ( )
1 vote steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Amazing. The story was unpredictable and kept me reading all day and night. ( )
  sojo817 | Mar 15, 2014 |
I've read a lot of fantastic books lately, so Before I go to Sleep had some stiff competition. Having said that, I've been wanting to read this psychological thriller since it was first published. Christine has no memory. Every morning she wakes up not knowing where she is, let alone the identity of the man in bed beside her. She has no recollection of the events that caused her brain injury, nor any idea how many years have passed since she first woke up in the hospital. This is a novel full of suspense and intrigue. We blindly stumble after Christine as she attempts to make discoveries about her life and indeed herself. There is a wonderful cast of supporting characters who Christine relies on to fill in the blanks, but some appear conflicted. This book had me reading long into the night (and morning) and i just couldn't put it down. I found myself shouting at it a fair few times when the twists came out of nowhere. Absolutely brilliant writing!
I'd like to thank the author and publisher for the advanced reading copy I received via netgalley. ( )
  claireh18 | Mar 12, 2014 |
A Brilliant Debut - Not To Be Missed!

A psychological drama that ultimately leads into a suspenseful thriller. The story is told from the first person perspective of Christine. Christine awakes each morning to find a strange man in her bed and to a face in the mirror she only barely recognizes as her own. Christine has been existing with a version of short term amnesia for over twenty years. The man in the bed is her devoted husband Ben and Christine is only able to remember herself as being in her 20's when she last fell asleep. Each day when Christine gets up she looks at the pictures her husband has taped up for her of the two of them and he then explains to her who she is. Each night she goes to sleep and the following morning the process begins again and again.

Recently, Christine has started seeing a new doctor and at his suggestion she has begun to keep a journal of her days and noting any fragments of memory that occasionally pops up along with whatever information she learns about herself from Ben. Her husband is unaware of her meetings with the doctor or her journal as he is determined that no further medical intervention is needed since it has only served to cause her continuous anguish in the past when ultimately there was no change in her condition.

Through her journal, Christine reminds herself each day, not only of who she is now, but through recording what bits of information about her past her husband fills in for her and what she learns working with the doctor she starts to form a written but fragmented memory of who she once was and what is happening in her life now. Through her journal entries Christine begins to notice discrepancies in what she is being told at different times and questions her mental state but also finds herself wondering if she can trust what her husband is telling her and what are the reasons he chooses to keep certain things from her. Is he trying to avoid upsetting her or himself? Through her work with her doctor Christine has snippets of memory but can't always trust these are real and not dreams.

The complexities of Christine's condition and the degree her world has been winnowed down to just her daily interaction with her husband because of it is heartbreaking as when each day begins anew so must Christine start over. But using her private journal as a daily reminder of who she is now and a record of what she has been told and what little she remembers about her past Christine struggles to find a way to learn to live within the extreme limitations of her current life.

It is only then, over three-quarters of the way through the book that the plot moves smoothly into the suspense thriller mode that has, oh so, quietly been an undercurrent throughout Christine's story as various facts abruptly come to a head and Christine is suddenly left to work out, within less than a day's time, what is happening around her and how to save herself.

As a debut novel, it is amazing how well crafted and developed this story is and what a realistical and well defined character Christine is as the reader becomes her invisible companion from the moment she opens her eyes and faces the emotional shock of each morning. Her journal pulls you in as Christine struggles to put together pieces of missing information she doesn't always know if she can trust. You're elated with her at every success and brought down with her at each loss.

The story is compelling as the uncertainty of what is real and what isn't slowly builds to an unexpected turn of events and suddenly everything seems turned around. Beware, it will keep you up until you reach the very end!

Nobody gave me this book in exchange for my review. I just tripped over it and was so caught up by this story I had to spread the word about it. I can't wait to see what the author releases next! ( )
  Myrt | Feb 24, 2014 |
This is a tautly written psychological thriller about Christine Lucas, a woman who is in her later 40's, who has had amnesia since her 20's after severe brain trauma. She can only remember things that happen during the course of one day or until she falls into a deep sleep, and awakens each morning to find she doesn't know where she is and why she looks 20 years older than she should. Her husband seems to be the only person in her life that is her link to the past and can fill her in each day as to who she is and where she is. She starts seeing a doctor (unbeknown to her husband) that says he may be able to help her with her memory and she begins to keep a diary. As she begins to write in her journal daily she begins to piece together her history and realizes that her husband isn't always telling her the whole truth.

Because the story is written in first person, we only know what Christine knows, only find out facts about her life when she finds out; a very clever device in keeping up the suspense level. The author also explores the idea of memory and identity. Not only does Christine have no memory of the past, she also has no future, she can't plan for tomorrow (prior to her keeping a journal). So if we have no memory of the past and no plans for the future then we are just like animals; knowing ones past and the ability to plan for the future are what makes us human.

I did have a couple of issues with the book toward the end. Without giving away anything, I will say that there was one glaring inconsistency in the storyline that I still can't see how the author missed. The other issue is that the ending was more creepy than shocking. Denise Lehane's "Shutter Island" had a clever and wholly unexpected twist in the end, this book falls a long way short of that.

I listened to this on audio, and the narrator, Orlagh Cassidy does an excellent job of conveying suspense, confusion and tension.

This is a well-written page turner that is a perfect beach read.
( )
  trishrope | Feb 7, 2014 |
Loved this! Intense and intriguing, similar to the premise of the movie 50 First Dates as far as the memory thing, but much deeper. Full review later. ( )
  ahappybooker | Feb 7, 2014 |
Loved this! Intense and intriguing, similar to the premise of the movie 50 First Dates as far as the memory thing, but much deeper. Full review later. ( )
  ahappybooker | Feb 7, 2014 |
Creepy. A great thriller, even when I figured out the twist there was still plenty more excitement to come. ( )
  Peace2 | Jan 11, 2014 |
Don't trust Ben. I loved this book! There was so many twists and turns, excellent. I stayed up half the night finishing it. I feel like I need to reread it to see how everything connects, but I never do that. ( )
  erica471 | Jan 5, 2014 |
A late-middle aged woman goes to sleep and wakes up each morning with her memories of the last twenty years or so completely erased. And there's a man in bed next to her...
This was an intriguing premise that might have been difficult to pull off convincingly, but the author manages it with great skill.
I'd highly recommend this novel. ( )
  SamKates | Dec 14, 2013 |
I read this book on the avid insistence of a friend, and I am sure glad I read this book. The premise is quite intriguing - a woman with a very unique type of amnesia in which she wakes up every morning not remembering anything from as much as several decades of her life. What is most interesting is that sometimes she wakes thinking she is a child, while others she believes she is a young adult. There is no predicting at what believed age she will be when she wakes, and no controlling it.
A few things bugged me about the plot, the first of which was that on the mornings that she was supposed to wake as a child, nothing in her behavior indicated that of a child - she still behaved the same as when she woke as a full-grown adult. I was also immediately suspicious of Ben, as his behavior towards her did not seem very motivated towards achieving a return of her memory- but I suppose that was the point.
Despite Christine's loss of memory, in many ways her actions are instinctual - which is very realistic and made for some tense scenes. A Dr. Nash comes to her aid in secret, both because her case is no unusual and because he really does want to help her. Despite the difficulties of Christine not remembering him from day-to-day, he is still able to make progress with her - all behind Ben's back. On his advice, Christine begins keeping a journal of each day, as well as what memories return to her. This is when the book really picks up in intensity, as Christine comes to realize that her own mind could be her own worst enemy. At times she is not even certain if she can trust the words in her journal, since she cannot remember writing them.
As she fills up her journal, she begins to uncover lies and secrets in her life that create nail-biting, mind-blowing scenes that had me riveted. I was a little disappointed with how the book ends - after all of the build up, it seemed almost anti-climactic. Other than that, the book was an excellent read, especially for a first-time author. Everyone should read this book! ( )
  JacobsBeloved | Nov 25, 2013 |
Intriguing plot that grips you straight from the very first line of text, twists and turns that keep you guessing all the way and an overall mind-blowingly clever and well-written psychological thriller that ranks up there with some of the best I've ever read.

I love Sophie Hannah books and, to anyone else that loves her books and is devastated because they've read them all and have to wait for the next one, S.J. Watson's "Before I go to sleep" won't disappoint. I found myself having a constant internal dialogue, debating the plot developments and being torn between possibilities, never knowing who to trust in the storyline...and I kept thinking "I'm only the reader, how must this poor woman feel??" I found myself telling everyone about the book and, for days after finishing it, I kept plotting scenarios of 'what happened next' in my head.

This book has it all...suspense, chilling psychological fear-factor and the sense that the story could continue in your own mind. An absolute must-read! ( )
  Frederika.Roberts | Nov 21, 2013 |
Christine wakes up in the morning to discover that she has no idea who or where she is. She does not recognize the man who is apparently her husband. She does not know how old she is. She has no memory of her past. But then she learns that this is a typical occurrence - she forgets her identity every morning when she wakes up, only to remember bits and pieces throughout the day and then forget everything as soon as she falls asleep. But despite her crippling amnesia, Christine has the feeling that her husband, Ben, may only be telling her part of the truth.

This book was one that I had been meaning to read for ages, ever since I discovered the magic that is psychological suspense, and thankfully it delivered exactly what I expected: a psychological condition mixed with varying degrees of paranoia, confusion, unease, and suspicion.

The book had a slower pace than most of the other psychological suspense I've read, and much of that was due to the nature of the story: Christine waking up each morning without any memory of who she is, and relearning her past by reading the journal that she's been writing in on a daily basis at the request of her doctor. The story becomes quite repetitive, and even though Christine learns new information about herself and what happened to cause this memory loss, we keep treading over her same thoughts: who is she really? Did she have a child once? Why is her husband hiding information from her? Should he be trusted?

But even though the story became a bit repetitive, everything came together with tremendous force and a huge plot twist at the end of the novel. I won't give spoilers here, but once that twist happened, I felt like the story transformed into an 80 mph roller coaster with me hanging on for dear life. Satisfying plot twists are one of my favorite things to encounter while reading, and this one definitely delivered.

The author creates a masterful suspicious and uneasy tone at the beginning of the novel, and it's this element that really pulls the reader throughout the story - the sense that SOMETHING is wrong and you're not sure what, but you do know that everything will be explained by the end. Anxious anticipation, if you will.

Although I prefer my psychological suspense to have a little more bite to it, this was still an engrossing and compelling novel that would make an excellent suggestion for readers who enjoy suspense without the grittiness or violence of, say, Gillian Flynn or Tana French.

Recommended for fans of: psychological suspense, ambiguous characters, plot twists.

Readalikes:

Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes. Although the psychology is different in these novels (OCD vs. amnesia), both stories feature women who worry that they cannot trust their own minds, nor the people around them.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl has a much sharper and more venomous quality, but its unreliable and flawed narrators help create a relentlessly compelling tale of psychological suspense, with a jaw-dropping plot twist about halfway through the book.

Turn of Mind - Alice LaPlante. Both suspenseful mysteries feature women with less-than-reliable memories who must reconcile what they know (or believe) to be true with what other people are telling them.
( )
  coloradogirl14 | Nov 21, 2013 |
The story line is quite unusual, a bit odd at first and I had a bit of a struggle getting into it. However, the psychological thought of it intrigued me. I did get bored with some of the repetition, which I guess is expected, considering the nature of the story. I did also have 2 revelations or thoughts with this story: 1)it is amazing at how much we define ourselves and our lives, and how we interact with others, how much of that is determined by our memories; 2) and that in times when we are helpless we are SO dependent on the integrity of the people who care for us. I did enjoy the book…… ( )
  motherwright | Nov 16, 2013 |
I enjoyed it - although it does seem to be a little like a Lifetime movie - but it drew me in quickly in the first chapter and didn't let go until the end. Somewhat predictable - at least in the approach - and there was ample room for exploration of memory and what it means to your self image (see Banks' "The Bridge" for a much better version of this story) - but as entertainment (as opposed to Art) it certainly hit the mark. Can't talk to much about the plot as it would give away too much - but the plot is very evident in the first 20 pages. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
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