I have never read a book quite so powerful, thrilling and inspirational as this. Before I go to sleep by S J Watson really is both mesmerising and thrilling as it tackles trauma, love, brain disorders and death, in what I would say is the best crime thriller I have ever read.
Recommended by my grandad, I was unsure what to think of the book at first – both the front and back cover leaves very little to go by, but the first page alone opens up a world that is so close to reality, that it could happen to anyone at anytime.
Focusing on the life of a woman, Christine, who survived what she believes was a car accident when she was in her twenties, the book follows her life as she relives each day, unaware of her past, present or future. After the accident, Christine was found to have amnesia, holding memories for no more than 24 hours, causing her to wake up each day unaware that she is now 47 and living with her husband.
After finding out that she meets in secret with Dr Nash, a neuropsychologist who specialises in brain disorders, Christine is made aware that she has started to create a journal to record each day in hope that it will re-trigger her memory, even if just short-term. Waking up each day, unaware of what is happening to her, who the man is lying in bed next to her, her husband Ben makes it his mission to reassure her of her past by placing photographs around the mirror and handing her a photo album each morning.
Dr Nash, who phones Christine each day to remind her of her meetings with him, and of her journal, encourages her to record everything that is happening and everything she is told. Finding out that she was married, had a child, that her parents had passed away, and that she had once written a novel, Christine begun to record her life ready for her to read again the next day as if for the first time.
The journal helps Christine to discover her past, but also adds light to her husband, who routinely lies to her having created a sensationalised life that will not upset her each day.
Focusing on her life, the routine both her and her husband go through, the extent relationships are built around lies, and the extremities people go to get where they want in life, this book is stunningly executed, gripping and slowly terrifying. Leaving any reference of closure to the last chapter, the reader is left on the edge as clues begin to unveil, telling more than one past – but which one was to be true, and who to be trusted?
This book was one of building tension, terror and thrill and has been executed in such a manor that the reader has no idea what is happening until the very end, placing them in the centre of the story, in Christine’s mind. It is also a great reminder of the power a book can hold. Acting as our only key to the past, to history, Watson makes several references throughout the book to the fine line between narration and imagination and how quickly we can perceive a mental image as being physical.
The most unearthing matter of the book is how easily everything happens, how unaware others are, and how terrifyingly realistic it could all be.