Before I Go To Sleep
The term ‘thriller’ doesn’t often go together with ‘literary’, but here the two collide in S. J. Watson’s phenomenal debut novel.
Written as the debut novel of an NHS audiologist, Before I Go to Sleep tells the story of Christine Lucas, a 47 year old amnesiac, who after an accident in her past wakes every day with no memories beyond her early twenties. Each morning she wakes next to a man she doesn’t recognise in an unfamiliar room. Slowly, it is explained to her that he is her husband, Ben and they have been married for twenty two years.
The story is told in the form of Christine’s journal which she is keeping in secret from Ben at the request of Dr Nash, a therapist she is seeing without his knowledge. All this she must be reminded of every day, as her mind is wiped clean each night. As Christine uses the journal to remind herself of the things she finds out each day, she realises Ben is not telling her the truth about everything. It brings one to raise a number of questions: Is this just an attempt to spare her fresh grief every day? Or alternatively, does Ben’s perceived duplicity reveal a more sinister motive? Christine uncovers the truth about her life in a chilling page-turner, as a reader you remain engaged by the promise of the denouement of the plot, culminating in a truly unexpected conclusion
The already unsettling storyline is complemented by the fact that the scenario seems so mundane and familiar; the house in London, the ‘normal’ people doing ‘normal’ things, although all the while something jarringly sinister is going on. The plot is intricately designed, so that the reader is never truly aware of the truth and who can be trusted. Christine suspects that Ben is hiding something, while Dr Nash could equally be untrustworthy. On the other hand, is it Christine? Has she fabricated the entire scenario in a paranoid delusion?
S. J. Watson delivers a beautifully crafted first novel, rich in prose and narrative detail. Easily readable in a few days with a fast-paced plot, Before I Go to Sleep is a true ‘Literary Thriller’. Perfect for students with not a lot of time on their hands, but who still want some quiet relaxation from being the perpetual party animal.
Before I Go to Sleep is available as part of a 3 for 2 offer in our student bookshop, Blackwells.