TITLE: BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP
AUTHOR: S.J. WATSON
A woman wakes up in an unfamiliar bed, next to a man she doesn’t know in a room she doesn’t recognize. When she enters the bathroom and looks in the mirror the woman looking back at her is much older than she expected. Around the mirror are pictures of this strange woman and the man she woke up with.
Confused and scared she listens to the man while he explains that her name is Christine and he is Ben, her husband. That she has been in an accident that has left her without her memories and unable to form new ones. Every night, while she sleeps she forgets what has happened during the previous day. Every morning she has to start anew, from scratch.
After Ben has gone to work she receives a call from a man who says he’s a doctor. She meets with the doctor who tells her more about her condition and returns a notebook to her. It is a journal she has been keeping. A journal containing clues to her days, her substitute for the memories she has lost. A journal that starts with the sinister words: “Don’t trust Ben”.
As Christine reads her own words she and the reader learn more about her condition, about the lies Ben has been and continues to tell her and about her past.
Keeping the journal does seem to help Christine. She now has a way of keeping a tenuous hold on her life. It also confuses her. Can she really trust what she has written down? Is Ben really a danger to her or is he just trying to protect her from pain.
As Christine comes closer to the truth of how she lost her memory and has ever more flashes of what appear to be memories, she is also putting herself in danger. But from what or whom exactly?
This is without a doubt the best thriller I’ve read in a long time. Just the thought of someone being unable to retain old or create new memories is enough to give you nightmares. The added tension of how she lost her memories in the first place and the mystery of who caused it makes this read almost unbearable.
I did figure out what was going on about half way through the book. In fact, I worked it out in the middle of the night when I woke up thinking about the story. Which just goes to show how this story really took a hold of me. A hold it will have over me for some time to come, I suspect.
I like the way the book ended on an optimistic note, but without any miracles or guarantees. Anything else would have left the book completely unrealistic.
This is a very well written, compelling and completely bone-chilling thriller and it comes highly recommended.