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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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3,3362941,631 (3.74)1 / 153
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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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 |
I picked this up because I wanted to read it before the movie came out. I had the brilliant idea of listening to it on tape with my 15 year old daughter. Not so great after all. The sexual content left me racing to snap it off on more than one occasion. It got to the point that I really got tired of hearing about her husbands penis. The narrator of the story did a fantastic job though. I loved hearing the story through her British accent.

The crux of the story is Christine has suffered some sort of accident that has left her without any memories of what happened and even worse she starts from scratch every time she wakes up. If I had to live with someone that I had to explain everything to every single day I think I would go crazy. Her ever present husband seems to have the patience of Job and soldiers on with the endless explanations. Eventually Christine keeps a journal which helps her to slowly put the bits and pieces of her life back together.

The first part of this book went so slowly. Fortunately the plot gained traction as the story went on. If I just listened to the first and the last CD's I think I could have gotten everything from the book. I didn't figure out the twist at the end but once I heard it I realized that the entire plot of this book seems lifted out of the 1987 movie Overboard staring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. In the movie the amnesia story was told with a more humorous bent than the thriller angle achieved by this novel but it's basically the same plot. Both the movie and the book require a suspension of belief as some pretty implausible things happen. At points I just really wanted to shake Christine and yell her at to get some common sense. The big reveal at the end was pretty good though and almost made up for the dragging start in the first half of the book. I am looking forward to seeing what Nicole Kidman does with the role of Christine. ( )
  arielfl | Nov 18, 2014 |
Enjoyable thriller about a woman who loses her entire memory every time she goes to sleep. The book labours a little in the middle, but although the end is not a total shock, it is well written and the description of the central character's paranoia is well done imagined ( )
  PIER50 | Nov 9, 2014 |
The build-up (or—if you’re fond of literary terminology, the rising action) in S.J. Watson’s novel “Before I Go to Sleep” is exquisite and painstaking. So meticulously does Watson construct (or perhaps, more accurately, re-construct) the events that lay the groundwork for Christine Lucas’ journey out of amnesia that the reader comes to expect nothing less than a complex conspiracy that will explain Christine’s mysterious past and why she wakes up every morning with no memory—of anything.

Aided by a doctor with questionable motives and reliant upon a journal that she keeps hidden from her inscrutable husband Ben, Christine slowly pieces together her past, including her absent best friend Claire and her presumed dead son Adam. Has she gone mad? Is everyone lying to her? Can we trust Christine? Can she trust herself?

The conclusion, unfortunately, is a bit of a letdown. Watson is skilled at capturing Christine’s keen sense of paranoia and uncertainty, but his mastery of plot leaves something to be desired. ( )
  jimrgill | Oct 23, 2014 |
What if you went to sleep each night, and in the morning, forget everything that defines you? Forget your name, who the man is that is sleeping next to you, forget the events that happened the day before, or the week before, or even the year before. Everyday is a BRAND NEW DAY. You have to trust that everything the man you live with is telling you the truth......but is it really the truth? This is Christine Lucas' reality, and this book takes you on a heart-racing, explosive journey as she discovers what happened to cause her memory loss. The answers will astound you!

( )
  avidbookcollector | Oct 8, 2014 |
Clever twist on a story of memory loss due to an accident? Quick read - beach read. ( )
  mechristie54 | Sep 28, 2014 |
Ok so I started this book thinking “oh, look at that poor amnesiac gal” and ended up screaming “die bitch die” inside my head. But first things first.

Well actually this book has so many problems I don’t know where to start. Maybe I’ll start with the fact that the author thinks readers are stupid and need everything spelt out for them? Seriously at some point I would start reading a paragraph and I’d know exactly where it was going, so I would think “surely she won’t explain what’s going to happen out loud, right? I mean it’s so obvious nobody would waste words on it, right?” How naïve of me. Long story short, everything was so predictable I almost gave up on reading a few times, not because I figured everything out (even if I did figure everything out, well it wasn’t that hard), but because the narrating bitch voice was telling the story in an unforgivable frustrating way, like she wanted you to know that something was coming but let out too much, so the whole thing seemed very amateurish. Also, the writing was very, very poor (and this coming from the least picky reader when it comes to writing style), the narrating bitch voice was too weak, giving out if-you-have-the-need-to-tell-me-that-a-kite-is-flying-or-some-other-crap-totally-unrelated-to-the-story-one-more-time-please-just-let-me-die-in-peace kind of information or by just being downright stupid.

And the sad part is that her thoughts/reasoning sometimes didn’t make sense at all, but they were more believable than all the other characters put together, since the oddest, most unforgivable actions were easily discharged as “normal” (well, yeah, it is a novel where the female protagonist wakes up every morning without remembering anything that has ever happened to her, but you still would expect some kind of consistent behavior). In fact, this may be the one story where I found nobody likeable. And I do mean nobody. At some point I couldn’t even feel sympathetic toward Christine anymore because I came to realize that she wasn’t a character, just a sad stereotype that went with the flow and didn’t question anything - or rather - questioned the wrong things and just happened to remember pivotal stuff out of the blue at the right time and the right place. (The very ending, too, was a very convenient way out. Too easy doesn’t do the trick for me, sorry).

That said, I didn’t hate the book (in fact when I started it I thought this would be a 5-star review). It had many flaws and the plot twist was never a plot twist, but it had a cool premise, and throughout the first part I was excited and intrigued by the story (even though soon I would just be begging for it to get to the damn point, but let’s look at the bright side for a moment shall we). Also, I’m still curious to watch the movie.

About that..

“He was attractive, too. Not film-star handsome, but better-looking than most.”

(The male lead is freaking Colin Firth. *Crazy inappropriate snorting*).
( )
1 vote kairih | Aug 30, 2014 |
This book is a genuine mind trip that had me hooked right to the end. The repetition, which was necessary since the narrator was the one with daily memory loss, was a little tiresome at times. The writer had a very clear sense of how he wanted to develop the characters and it was quite clever. I really enjoyed the overall thrilling ride this book sent me on and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good, easily read page turner. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
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. ( )
2 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 |
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