Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson is a slightly older (2011) psychological thriller & suspense novel. It is probably the book that kicked off the more recent popularity of the ‘amnesia trope’ as I have seen many books peg themselves as ‘for fans of…’ this one.
Between that and the fact that I wanted to watch the movie, I bumped this one up on my backlist!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Before I Go To Sleep
- Author: SJ Watson
- Publisher & Release: HarperCollins, June 2011
- Length: 368 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ by nature slightly repetitive, but still a good domestic psychological suspense
Here is the synopsis via GoodReads:.
Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.
Christine wakes up every day and has no idea about … Anything. Where is she? Who is this stranger in het bed? Why is she 47 now?
Every day, her husband reorients her and then heads odd to work. She is contacted by, and then begins to work with a new doctor, in secret, and starts writing down daily events and what her husband tells her. Things get even weirder when she realizes the strange man – her husband apparently – lies to her.
The game for the reader becomes trying to decide if Ben is lying because he is sick of living day in day out with an amnesiac? Are the memories of losing a son too painful for him? Is Christine just paranoid? Or… Is it something more sinister. Also, where does this new Dr – Dr. Nash – fit into everything?
While the book is by nature very repetitive at first, it got definitively creepy and more thrilling towards the end. I guessed the ‘who’ but not the ‘why’ at all, and the WHY is definitely the grabbing point. The last 25% was very exciting and for me that made up for the slower start.
The psychology was pretty cool too, I enjoyed reading about different types of amnesia and the therapy, and then seeing the figurative walls coming down.
That ending though, that ending 😂
I would recommend this one for fans of domestic thrillers and a man writing hilarious descriptions of a weiner. Oh yes – after the third time a penis was described as “comical”, I had to butt out and see if the author was a man or woman. Not to say that as a woman, I don’t tend to find penises comical – but this was definitely a man writing the sexy scenes 😂
A note on the audio: If anyone is an audio fan, I think Orlagh Cassidy was a properly confused and then horrified sounding narrator. Christine spent most of her time either confused, scared, hopeful or hopeless, and Cassidy conveyed that all very well. I loved her accent and also think that the audio would make this book more enjoyable for those who (like me) tend to lose focus with repetitive text. It runs 11hours 32 minutes from HarperAudio and I obtained my copy through Libby!