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Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

Before I Go To Sleep (original 2011; edition 2012)

by S J Watson

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3,5293161,498 (3.74)1 / 174
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 |
English (297)  Dutch (10)  French (4)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (316)
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This is good. Nicely told, suspenseful, quite a few misdirections to keep you guessing. The most entertaining book I've read in a while. ( )
  etrainer | May 15, 2015 |
Well I can honestly say that I really enjoyed reading this book and it had me hooked.
I had to find out what was going on. It had me guessing as to who the 'baddie' was so-to-speak right up until the end and I too like alot of people, i suppose, guessed wrong. I can also see why some people would not have liked it because the ending did in some ways seem a little too convenient,but I was not expecting it to turn out how it did. Even as I was reading it I kept changing my mind as to what had / was happening with her life and who if anyone she could trust.
I really made me think how awful it must be for someone to be in the same situation that this woman was in and also how much worse it must be for the loved ones around that person who have to live with it every day whilst the person with the actual affliction starts afresh every single day (which may actually be a blessing for them) ( )
  WWDG | May 6, 2015 |
I guess the premise of this novel is widely known by now, but in a nutshell the narrator Christine wakes up every day with no idea who she is, having suffered a trauma some years before that affected her memory. Everything she learns during the day, she promptly forgets overnight. I had a computer like that once, and it was mighty annoying, but this is probably some way worse.

It must have been a challenge to write. Like Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life", there is a necessary element of repetitiveness about it, and I wondered how the author would deal with it. In the first chapter, we follow Christine as she wakes up, no idea where she is, and via a diary (that she initially doesn't know she has been keeping) finds out what is going on. Subsequently the waking up and being disoriented bit is dropped, to be assumed by the reader. As it should be, but as Christine reads her diary she feels less like the person who woke up with no memory, and more like someone who remembers everything. It was always going to work out that way, but it was hard to keep in mind that every day was like an individual lifetime to her. On the other hand, the author skilfully points out the implications of this medical condition that are not immediately obvious - the way it would be compounded by illness and infirmity. Having such a condition on the day of one's death. It was grim stuff.

Whatever my misgivings about some bits of it (and one passage towards the end about who had whose telephone number and who couldn't get in touch with who nearly made me lose the will to live), this is a story that demands to be read to the end, and has a good twist that some will guess, but I didn't. ( )
  jayne_charles | May 4, 2015 |
You can read the synopsis for yourself, so I won't reiterate. I will say that this is a page turner! Not a book you can read while part of your brain is on vacation, so if you're looking for one of those, keep looking. This is a very thoughtful and complex story that requires you to pay attention to details--I love books like this! There are clues dropped throughout that will help the reader to figure out what is going on, but again, if you speed through, you will miss them completely. ( )
  ClarissaJohal | Apr 25, 2015 |
Good thriller. ( )
  INorris | Apr 20, 2015 |
This book is a fast paced thriller with not much emphasis on the thriller. I found it very difficult to put down but I found that it really only classifies as a thriller towards the very end.
I can't even imagine how life for Christine. How you wake up every single day the same, thinking you are in your 20's with your whole life ahead of you and then with no idea who you are or who anyone else is, where you are, and with no memories of your life. I found it so sad that her whole life was stolen, she couldn't remember anything that happened. Her life was so alone, she had no parents, no friends, because what's the point of hanging out with people you won't remember the next day. And day after day her husband would tell her again and again, the events of her life.
After she starts keeping a journal, she finds so many discrepancies with what her husband is telling her from day to day. One story of her life one day can totally change the next time Ben tells it. And what happened to Adam? What event robbed her of everything?
While reading it, I am mentally telling Christine not to ever tell Ben about the journal or the things she's discovered as I just didn't trust him at all. She's so confused with all the lies she's been told, can she trust Ben, or Claire or dr Nash?
I did find the book a little repetitious which really can't be helped since every day for Christine is like "Groundhog Day" with the same thing over and over but sometimes it seemed the same thing was happening and there wasn't a lot of change in the events.
I had a few suspicions and this book had me flying through to the conclusion, I had to know. And as the end came, I still felt sad for Christine, and all she had lost that she can't ever regain.
But thriller or mystery or whatever, still a great book. I am curious to see the movie, I can see Colin Firth in the earlier portion of the book but I cannot picture him as the Ben of later in the book. ( )
  maggie1961 | Apr 4, 2015 |
No memory of previous day after sleep ( )
  keithgordonvernon | Apr 1, 2015 |
I started this book in December. Since then I have read 6 other books and
watched 3 seasons of House of Cards. IF this does not hint at dissatisfaction
with the read I don't know what does!
Continuing to read this book has been like a forced march through a slog of
I kept reading on as 3 out of 4 in my reading circle raved about it. If I did not
know better I would say that busy,little elves were re-typing this story each night
after I put it down and lacking imagination kept on writing the same stuff over and
over and over again!
I am no stranger to the damsel in distress,psychological thrillers having read many
over the course of the years. I was so disinterested in what was really going on
with this boring character and her equally appearing to be,long suffering husband
that I wasted no mental energy in trying to figure out what the heck was going on.
Then my first thought was to throw the book across the room as I said to myself
"all this for that plot twist"? What a waste of my time.
So I am going back to another amnesia story,Stella Bain. Some did not like this book
but Anita Shreve is a far,far better writer with her excellent but sparse prose......nary
a word wasted! ( )
1 vote MEENIEREADS | Mar 13, 2015 |
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson is one suspense thriller I could not set down. Each time I tried, or thought I could,. I realized I needed to know just a little bit more and so one and before I knew it the day was gone. I highly recommend Before I Go To Sleep to anyone who enjoys a well written suspenseful thriller. ( )
  knittingmomof3 | Feb 25, 2015 |
A wonderful book that shows us how much it costs to loose ones memory on a small window daily and rediscover her lost years. ( )
  durgaprsd04 | Feb 25, 2015 |
I enjoyed this one. It was a nice escape. The premise fascinated me and I thought a lot could be done with out. However I did guess at the ending and was right, but suspended my guess and kept reading. For a debut novel, it was quite good. ( )
  adam.d.woodard | Feb 23, 2015 |
This was fun. It's one of those books that's a thriller and page turner where you read as fast as you can to find out what happens. It may not be high art or completely have made sense, but I enjoyed the ride!

This is the story of Christine, who wakes up each morning not remembering anything from the past 20 or so years of her life and has only spotty memories before then. She can remember the events of each day during the day, but as soon as she goes into a deep sleep it is as if her memories reset. She is journaling her days at the request of a new doctor and each day he calls to remind her where it is hidden so she can read it and write in it. She hides it each day because she doesn't feel comfortable telling her husband, the man she wakes up in bed with each morning but doesn't remember and can't seem to trust, about her progress.

There are lots of twists and turns and of course the unreliable narrator element with a woman telling the story who can only remember one day at a time. I imagine the science of memory behind this book must be pretty shoddy, but it was still fun.

Recommended if you enjoy the occasional thriller and page-turner. ( )
  japaul22 | Jan 27, 2015 |
This book would have gotten 5 stars but the ending was just so UGH! Don't read the rest if you don't want to book spoiled!...

I love love LOVED this book for the most part. It was so intersting, very well written, and the characters were just great. However I was unimpressed with the ending. I so badly wanted to know if she had gotten her memory back for good or if she was the way she was throughout the book. I think it would have been better had Watson given us this little piece of information. Even if he wrote another chapter that was titled "1 year later" and only had a little page of information like they do at the end of some reality shows to tell you how the people were doing after the show filmed. All in all though it was a very good read, I couldn't stop reading! It only took me three days to read the book, and I wasn't planning on reading it first out of the bunch that I had gotten from the library that day. ( )
  PrescottKris | Jan 26, 2015 |
I'd give this book a 3.5. The writing really drew me in, but I like the diary/journal style. I also liked how the author fed information as the character was learning it. Was the story that evolved very original? Eh, maybe not, but it was entertaining to read. I would have given it 4 stars, but I thought the end was a little to neatly put together. ( )
  CinderH | Jan 22, 2015 |
Excellent, suspenseful, twist at the end; couldn't put it down! ( )
  cindyb29 | Jan 12, 2015 |
Holy fucking plot twist.
I had a tiny little background notion what was going on with Ben and everything, but when I actually read it on paper it still hit me like a ton of bricks. I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't trust anyone not even Christine and when I started reading it definitely reminded me of 50 First Dates, obviously just a more ominous version.
Well written, fast-paced, and a new favorite. ( )
  Serenity_Tigerlily | Jan 5, 2015 |
Before I Go To Sleep is the story of Christine, a woman who has both anterograde amnesia, which is the ability to create new memories and retrograde amnesia, which is the ability to recall one’s past. Because of this, every morning she starts over, her mind a blank slate. She wakes up not knowing where she is and who she is. Her husband must explain it to her every day – that she had an accident that left her with amnesia, he is her husband, etc.

Christine starts working with a doctor who wants to help reverse her amnesia. The therapy mostly involves her keeping a journal of what happens to her every day and then reading it every morning to fill herself in on who she is and what she’s been doing. Her husband doesn’t approve of her being in therapy so she must do this in secret. Along the way, she discovers some secrets herself.

I’ll admit that enjoying this book requires some suspension of disbelief. It’s told in first person from Christine’s view point so the narrative of the book is her journal entries. Her journal entries are much more descriptive and detailed than you’d expect but the fact that she was a writer before the accident explains some of that. And it would be a pretty awful book to read if the journal entries weren’t written well. I thought this was the best device to use so that the story could be told in first person. It helped me identify with Christine’s confusion. I was really confused too. In fact, I was surprised at how many twists were in this book. Several times I thought I had everything figured out but I never actually did.

I loved this book – it kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it, going over everything in my mind, trying to figure the mysteries out. A movie adaptation of Before I Go To Sleep was recently released, starring Nicole Kidman. I’m interested to see how this story translates to the screen. I think it would be very hard to do. I definitely recommend the novel. ( )
  mcelhra | Jan 4, 2015 |
Imagine if 50 first dates was a thriller and not a rom-com, and you get the idea for this book. I was meant to only read a chapter and go to bed, but I almost finished the book sitting on the bathroom floor reading...........just until the next chapter. I couldn't read the words fast enough when I was getting to the end. No, it's not exactly a believable situation, and yep the concept, amnesia, has been done before, but I didn't find it a fault. I liked that the story and her past was unfolding to me at the same time as she was making the same discoveries. Loved it, just what a good thriller should do, drag you through full of anticipation til the end. ( )
  Karyn_Ainsworth | Dec 29, 2014 |
Amnesia can be a tempting topic/hook, and not every writer can pull it off smoothly, but Before I Go to Sleep is pretty convincing. Christine wakes up with no memory of the past 20 years - but apparently, this is nothing new. Her husband Ben - who she doesn't recognize - fills her in on the basics, but it's not until she receives a phone call from Dr. Nash, reminding her about her journal in the closet, that she begins to be able to make an account of each day. She's a partially unreliable narrator in this way: readers can pretty much trust what's in the journal (which makes up the large middle section of the book), but other than the journal Christine can't rely on her memory. Sometimes she gets flashes, but are these memories or imaginings?

There are additional hints about paranoia and confabulation, but Christine seems quite sane. She catches Ben lying to her, but he explains that he is trying to protect her, which she accepts. It's not until Dr. Nash takes her to her old house and an institution where she once lived, and her old best friend Claire re-enters her life, that more memories return and her suspicion of Ben begins to grow. I guessed the twist a little before it was revealed, but not too far in advance; overall it was a good suspenseful read.


"...the memories aren't lost completely. The problem is not one of storage but of access."
"You mean my memories are there, I just can't get to them?"
(Dr. Nash and Christine, 69)

...I carry these jagged shards of memory with me always, everywhere, like tiny bombs, and at any moment one might pierce the surface and force me to go through the pain as if for the first time... (124)

What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories? (155)

"...patients with amnesia such as yours often have a tendency to do something we call confabulation. Things around them do not seem to make sense, and so they feel compelled to invent details." (Dr. Wilson to Christine, 188)

"It's not life, it's just an existence, jumping from one moment to the next with no idea of the past, and no plan for the future." (Christine to Dr. Nash, 194)

"If we tell ourselves often enough that something happened, we start to believe it, and then we can actually remember it." (Dr. Nash to Christine, 206)

There is only so much that a mind can take... (212)

All the history I have reads like fiction. (219)

A refusal to provide an answer, disguised as an answer itself. I wonder if this is what he is always like. I wonder if years of telling me the same thing have worn him down, bored him to the point where he can no longer bring himself to tell me anything. (287) ( )
  JennyArch | Dec 27, 2014 |
What a disturbing sensational debut. A great book for discussion at your book club. As I was reading, I had thought of jotting clues down for discussion. I would recommend that you do not have anything planned that you need to do for when a writer makes you pay attention to detail for clues are in-itself grounds for a great page-turner read. If you could possibly stand the Thrill & Chill, this is an evilious read. Don't forget your loved ones. Or else. ( )
  Buttonholed | Dec 27, 2014 |
For fans of trying to figure out a story... backwards. This novel is the story of a woman who wakes each day not remembering who she is, how old she is, and where she lives -- and with whom she lives. It's a story of both long-term and short-term memory loss; the main character can retain things during the day, but as soon as she sleeps, her memory is essentially erased. A great puzzle, trying to figure out the truth; figure out who she can trust and who she can't. Definitely parts of the book you cannot put down until you get some closure! ( )
  Randall.Hansen | Dec 22, 2014 |
What a disturbing sensational debut. A great book for discussion at your book club. As I was reading, I had thought of jotting clues down for discussion. I would recommend that you do not have anything planned that you need to do, for when a writer makes you pay attention to detail for clues are in-itself grounds for a great page-turner read. If you could possibly stand the Thrill & Chill, this is an evilicious read. The story is a psychological thriller about a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia. She wakes up every day with no knowledge of who she is and she tries to reconstruct her memories from a journal she's been keeping. She learns her name is Christine Lucas and she is a married 40 year old mother of a son. She's been seeing a doctor who is helping her to recover her memory and as the story unfolds this journal starts to cast doubts (truth?) about this knowledge she reads everyday. She has a great inner strength to find out the truth behind this madness and she does. One thing for sure, don't forget your loved ones. Or else. ( )
  Buttonholed | Dec 21, 2014 |
Loved it- kept me guessing until the end! ( )
  sgraham66 | Nov 27, 2014 |
A chilling read about an obviously intelligent woman who becomes reliant on the 'memories' other people offer her. When she begins to keep a journal, however, some dark discrepancies come to the fore. A clever book with some good - if, at times, slightly predictable - twists. ( )
  donnambr | Nov 27, 2014 |
Having not read any reviews of this book I started it as a fresh blank canvas.
I found this book is so exciting I could not put it down, no really, I couldn’t stop reading. I started reading just before 8am and finished it around 9.30pm. An edge of the seat read, each ‘day’ bringing a new roller coaster of emotions.

The plot not only explores the notion that memories define us but shows a hint of personality being more than memories. It stops and makes you think about yourself and your own memories, you try and imagine yourself in Christine’s place…not knowing…

It is a book that lingers in your mind after you have finished, you search back into your own memory to see if there was a point that you guessed the outcome. Nope, I didn’t guess right up until the end.

Psychological thrillers can often be a disappointment, but this one is so intriguing you cannot let the story go.

Watson shows how scary it must be to wake up in a strange house, next to a strange man, and seeing yourself 20 years older that you know yourself to be, every single day. A husband you don’t remember, and your own face aged.

I loved the characters in this book, as they performed different to how I wanted them to, and there was always a hint of not really knowing anyone.

I could imagine the way Christine starts each day as if its the first day of your life. The loneliness it must create. Being based on the life of amnesiacs, this also has a small resonance of living with dementia, when you can wake up in the morning having forgotten the past few days, progressing to not knowing your own family members, living each day in isolation.

I usually find that films do not match up to the excitement of the book, although if it stays true to Watson’s story it will be worth watching.

Psychological thriller at its best - no question about that. Nicely written this is a must read.
( )
  greatbookescapes | Nov 20, 2014 |
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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921758155, 1921758988

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