Sunday 31 July 2011

Before I Go To Sleep ~ S J Watson

Before I Go To Sleep is the debut novel from S J Watson, published by Doubleday; an imprint of Transworld Publishing.

It's not very often that a debut novel get so many rave reviews, both from newspaper reviewers and other authors.

I read somewhere that Tess Gerritsen has said that she wishes she had written this book - from such a successful author, that really is praise indeed.

S J Watson has come a long way in the last couple of years, the novel was written between his shifts at an NHS hospital and the subject matter was inspired in part by the lives of several amnesiac patients, including Henry Gustav Molaison and Clive Wearing.

I'd read and enjoyed Deborah Wearing's account of her husband Forever Today - A Memoir of Love and Amnesia, some years ago, so I was really interested to find out just how Watson had tackled this subject.

I don't think that I've ever come across such a cleverly plotted and scripted thriller before, this really is page-turning writing that keeps the reader up well past bed-time.
Christine wakes up every morning in a strange room, beside a strange man.   
She sees a face in mirror that is 20 years older than it should be and gradually each day she realises that she is no longer that 20 something, happy girl, but a woman in her mid-forties - who wears 'old ladies' clothes and is married to a man with a paunch and receding hair. 

Every day for Christine is like a re-birth, she remembers nothing at all prior to waking each morning.   
S J Watson
Then enters the mysterious Dr Nash, a man who claims to want to help her but asks her not to tell her husband.  Dr Nash encourages Christine to keep a memory journal and it is with the help of this diary that Christine begins to piece together the truth about her past life.  Or is it the truth?  Can she trust her husband Ben? Why is he lying to her?   Who is Dr Nash and what has happened to Adam?   All questions that Christine has to deal with and which I desperately wanted answers to as I frantically turned the pages. 
I believe the film rights have been sold to Ridley Scott's company, I really hope that the book is handled well - I can see something along the lines of Memento or Shutter Island, both excellent films with a similar theme. 
Before I Go To Sleep is incredibly well structured, the subject matter is terrifying, yet compelling.  The characters jump from the page, the mystery and intrigue are at times relentless. 
I have no doubt that this is just the start of a fantastic writing career for S J Watson.


  1. I've just got this book as I've heard nothing but praise for it. It's my favourite genre too, so looking forward to reading it.
    Great Review Anne.

  2. This is a novel of a woman who suffers an unusual memory disorder. Christine begins every day with no memory of who she is, who her husband is, or what her life consists of.