Review: ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S.J.Watson
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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 be telling you only half the story.
Welcome to Christine’s life.
I was intrigued by the idea of this book as soon as I read the synopsis. I loved the idea of the psychological/sociological questions that the story had the potential to raise.Do our memories define us? Even if I didn’t remember that I hate milk, I would still hate milk. That wouldn’t change. Some things about us just are but maybe not the things that really matter. Like my boyfriend of 5 years or everything I’ve learnt that means I can practice as a lawyer. Would I still be the ‘same person’ if I forgot all of the experiences that have lead to me having the personality that I do? Is personality innate or is it learnt and drawn from our memories of the choices we’ve made and our interactions?
As well as being a look at memory and psychology, however, it also happens to be a gripping thriller. I would guess that not having a clue who anybody is or why they’re in your life would breed an element of suspicion and it’s the uncertainty that makes the book so atmospheric. There’s always a question lurking about other characters’ motives and comments and I never quite felt…settled while I was reading it. Take Ben (Christine’s husband), for example. There’s a question mark hanging over him for the whole book and Christine vacillates between sympathy and anger regularly, making it hard to work out who is “good” and who isn’t and driving the mystery that keeps the plot going.
I’ve read reviews that criticise the book for being repetitive. Although there is a modicum of truth in the comment, I actually found that it helped the story, rather than hindered it. Christine’s life is repetitive. She has to wake up every day, look at a face she doesn’t know in the mirror and try to put her life back together by reading her diary and speaking to her husband and her doctor. I never felt bored by the elements that pop up necessarily regularly and they helped me empathise with Christine that little bit more.
Date finished: 4 March 2012
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Genre: Thriller; Crime
Published: by Black Swan in January 2012