New York Times bestseller, Before I Go To Sleep is S.J. Watson’s first novel, and what a début masterpiece it is. A psychological thriller, the novel takes the reader on a journey of finding whether the truth really is what it’s made out to be.
Age 47, Christine Lucas goes to sleep and forgets everything from the day before – the result of a traumatic event several years before the book takes place. Although the combined retrograde and anterograde amnesia is slightly fabricated (going to sleep and forgetting everything the day before), S.J. Watson’s blog post explains how close the character’s symptoms are to those in real life.
“I was very careful during the writing of (Before I Go To Sleep) to make it as true as possible to real cases of amnesia – but, I thought, that my one concession was that my character is able to retain memories for a day, which are then wiped,” – S.J. Watson, 2011.
The only way she knows the truth is through listening to her husband, Ben, and her doctor, Dr. Nash.
Not having any knowledge of the previous day of who she met, what she did and what she was told – as her memories “reset” overnight – puts Christine in the body of a 47 year-old who wakes up not knowing that the man sleeping next to her is her husband, or that she is 47.
“We’re constantly changing facts, rewriting history to make things easier, to make them fit in with our preferred version of events. We do it automatically. We invent memories. Without thinking. If we tell ourselves something happened often enough we start to believe it, and then we can actually remember it,” S.J. Watson in Before I Go To Sleep.
Meandering between a psychological thriller and a life story drama, the novels ties the past with the present seamlessly – and presents the real truth via certain clues throughout the novel. Although there are a few plotholes that may leave you a little annoyed, they don’t have a major effect on the story.
Cliché as it may seem, I honestly couldn’t put the book down. I wouldn’t say the book was starbangled awesome, or a ‘read-it-from-start-to-end-in-one-go’ type, it had suspense and held its own where some books often fail. It leaves you wanting more – wanting to find out where the truth ends, and the lies begin.
A film adaption directed by Rowan Joffe and starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong premières in Australia later this month.
Ezra Magazine was in no way paid via donations or through advertisements for the publication of this review.