Thursday, 25 July 2013

Before I Go to Sleep

by S. J. Watson
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (6 juin 2011)
359 pages - 21.99 $

I did not know this author before I realized that a lot of people talk about him on Twitter. By dint of seeing rave reviews (especially in French by the way) and after discovering that he had won the 2012 SNCF polar prize, I wanted to read this famous first novel.


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.

But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities -- tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life -- and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.

What I think of it

A pure psychological thriller (which I must admit is less to my taste, especially the psychological side ...) with a fluidity in the text. We inch in the story and the more we advance the more the suspense and tension build up to an end - although a little predictable - nonetheless very good.

At first I was scared to read the same thing constantly, as Christine forget all her days overnights. I thought that this would be yet another story of butterfly effect, seen and reviewed, but I was pleasantly surprised, because Watson arrives to help us understand the anguish of a woman who wakes up every morning not knowing who is man beside her, without telling us the same thing. He adds every day a detail, a fact, an anecdote that allows us to understand the story of Christine, almost at the same time (almost because as we do not forget ... we - almost - are one step ahead anyway)!

The main character, Christine, is very well written, not too hysterical despite her condition, not too naive either, rather she is an intelligent woman who is looking for answers to her story without blindly believing what people tell her. The relationships between the characters are very realistic, there are no frills. I was really surprised to know that the author is a man considering how he writes and the accuracy in the transcription of the feelings and thoughts of Christine: there is a real feminine sensibility in the writing, which made me think that the author is a woman.

In a nutshell

Amateurs of psychological thriller, this book is for you! It fully deserves its price and for a first novel, S. J. Watson hits hard, it must be said. I give it a 3/5, mainly because I have a harder time hanging on with psychological thrillers.

My thoughts on closing the book: by Jove, I do not like this kind of ending!

No comments:

Post a Comment