Before I Go To Sleep — TLC Book Tour

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Published:  2011 by Harper Perennial

Source:  Received from publisher for review

  On page one of Before I Go To Sleep, Christine Lucas awakes in a strange bed next to a strange man and she begins to panic — what have I done this time she admonishes herself.  When she goes into the bathroom she sees pictures displayed of her and the man with whom she spent the night.  They portray an older, flabbier version of herself and she panics.  Running back into the next room, she is met by the man who tells her that he is her husband. 

  Christine has lost her memory, and it has been gone for many years.  Each morning when she wakes everything is completely new to her — who she is, where she is, and who she is with.  In the reader’s first encounter with her, Christine’s husband Ben explains her situation to her (again, obviously it’s not the first time he has had to do it) and, once she’s calmed down, he leaves for work.

  Christine then receives a phone call on the cell phone Ben has her carry with her.  It is from a Dr. Nash, her therapist, reminding her of their appointment today.  Of course she doesn’t remember, and he agrees to come by to pick her up; in the meantime he tells her about the journal she has been keeping and that she should take it from its hiding place and review it.  When she finds it, she sees what has been written on the first page:  DON’T TRUST BEN. 

  Most of the rest of the novel is this journal, Christine’s account of her days with Ben and with Dr. Nash and the snippets of memories that she is recalling.  As the journal progresses, her memories become clearer but at the same time her present situation becomes less so:  Why shouldn’t she trust Ben?  Why should she trust Dr. Nash, especially when Ben isn’t aware they are meeting?  What really happened to her that caused such a memory loss?  

  It seems that she must work through these questions on her own, and for the reader (this reader anyways), they are not clearly answered until the end of the book either.  There are so many small twists in the story, things that we are learning along with Christine, and I really felt empathy for her situation; at the same time, there are clues to indicate that something isn’t quite right with what she is being told.

  I don’t normally read thrillers like this, but I very much enjoyed this novel.  For me “page-turner” aptly describes it; in fact one day when I was reading the book during my lunch break at work a significant plot twist occurred just as I had to return to the office, but when I got home that night I plopped down and started reading before I did anything else.  As I mentioned above, the uncertainty of Christine’s situation lingers throughout the novel, and I liked the fact that I had the same uncertainty of the outcome until the very end.

  After reading the novel, I had another surprise.  For some reason, I assumed that the author, S.J. Watson, was a woman.  I can’t explain why, though I think the fact the main character is female and the author bio on the back cover explains that this novel is Watson’s first – the result of of a rigorous and selective writing program.  So I was truly shocked when I saw a photo of the author:

It doesn’t change my opinion of the book or anything, but it does make me think about how judge things.


Be sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour for this book.


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8 Responses to Before I Go To Sleep — TLC Book Tour

  1. Leeswammes says:

    Glad you enjoyed this book so much! I enjoyed it a lot too, except the ending was a bit rushed, if I remember well. But a very good read – interesting subject.

    I wonder if you thought the author was a woman because there is a female thriller writer called S. J. Bolton. I have reviewed a few of her books so you may have seen my reviews, remembered the S. J. and made that connection? Interesting, isn’t it, how memory works!

  2. I also enjoyed this book very much, actually I listened to it and chose it as my best fiction audio for 2011. Orlagh Cassidy is a master narrator. And same thing, I guess also because the narrator is a woman, I thought the author was a woman! He’s really good at entering the psychology of a woman with amnesia, isn’t he, well I have been through that, so what do I know, but still, it sounds really good. Here is my review:

    The first comment makes me think there’s something confusing with S.J. authors! There’s also S.J. Parris, who writes great mysteries set in England in the 16th century, the hero is a former monk, the narrator is the great John Lee, and so I thought the author was a man, well S.J. fooled me again. If you are intrigued by these great books of hers, here is my review of the first two in the series, #3 should come out this year:

  3. zibilee says:

    I also liked this book, but I felt that the ending and some of the plot stretched credulity a bit. It was interesting to me that a lot of the information that the main character was reacting to on a daily basis was false, and that a whole other scenario was going on behind the scenes. This was a great review, and I really appreciated reading your thoughts on it. Thanks!

    • bibliosue says:

      I agree that you need to allow the author a bit of license with the plot; the ending didn’t go the way I thought it might, but it was satisfying nonetheless.

  4. Authors with initials for first names always throw me off so I can understand why you’d have thought SJ was a woman!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. Glad to see this was a good read for you.

  5. curlygeek04 says:

    I really enjoyed this book and had the same reaction you did about the author. Maybe because the character felt very real. I wonder if maybe I think a female author is more likely to want to hide her gender? My only problem with the book is that no one actually writes a diary in the detailed way that this character did.

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