Summary and book reviews of Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Before I Go To Sleep

A Novel

by S.J. Watson

Before I Go To Sleep
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2012, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Book Summary

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Welcome to Christine's life.

S. J. Watson makes his debut with this fast-paced psychological thriller, reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento.

A terrible accident has robbed Christine of her memories. She cannot remember the past - or even yesterday. Determined to discover who she is, she has begun keeping a journal before she goes to sleep. Before she can forget again.

But the truth may be more terrifying - and deadlier - than she bargained for...

Part One
Today

The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don't know where I am, how I came to be here. I don't know how I'm going to get home.

I have spent the night here. I was woken by a woman's voice - at first I thought she was in bed with me, but then realized she was reading the news and I was hearing a radio alarm - and when I opened my eyes I found myself here. In this room I don't recognize.

My eyes adjust and I look around in the near dark. A dressing gown hangs off the back of the wardrobe door - suitable for a woman, but someone much older than I am - and some dark-coloured trousers are folded neatly over the back of a chair at the dressing table, but I can make out little else. The alarm clock looks complicated, but I find a button and manage to silence it.

It is then that I hear a juddering intake of breath behind me and realize I am not alone. I turn round. I see an expanse of skin and dark hair, flecked with white. A man. He has his left arm outside ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions

  1. Christine doesn't feel a strong sense of love for her husband, but wonders if that is normal after so many years of marriage. Do you think it's inevitable that a marriage changes in this way?


  2. Christine says that she feels like an animal. Living from moment to moment, day to day, trying to make sense of the world. Do you think this is what it must be like to be in her situation? Do you think animals really have no sense of their past? Is the ability to remember years gone by all that separates human beings from animals?


  3. Christine doesn't feel she achieved all of her childhood ambitions. She feels disappointment in the life that she has made for herself. Is this common for a woman as she approaches fifty years ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I'll be honest - Before I Go to Sleep wasn't what I was expecting when I agreed to review the book. So many recent novels have been dubbed "psychological thrillers" that the term's meaning has perhaps become watered down, leaning more toward "thriller" than "psychological." I suppose I was expecting a good but not great page-turner that would entertain but otherwise have little depth. What I found instead was an exceptionally well-crafted novel of slowly building suspense - a "thinking woman's" thriller, if you will.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (574 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Watson handles what could have turned into a cheap narrative gimmick brilliantly, building to a chillingly unexpected climax.

Library Journal

[I]t's a gripping, one-sitting psychological thriller. The publishers in 34 countries that have bought the rights, plus Ridley Scott, who's producing the film, can't all be wrong.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Watson's pitch-perfect writing propels the story to a frenzied climax that will haunt readers long after they've closed the cover on this remarkable book.

Author Blurb Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series
The best debut novel I've ever read.

Author Blurb Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Moonlight Mile
An exceptional thriller. It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished the last page.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

brilliant debut
Before I Go To Sleep is the first novel by British author S.J.Watson. Christine Lucas has the sort of amnesia that prevents her from storing new memories. This means that she wakes each day in an unfamiliar bedroom, next to a man she doesn’t know. ...   Read More

Carolyn Watters

Couldn't put it down!
Not your typical mystery/thriller. Makes a great book club selection. I loved the author's style and the pace. Would make a great movie!

Louise J

Could be a TOP Book of 2011....Don't Miss It!!
This is the first book I’ve read on my brand new KOBO e-reader and what a book it was!!! The mystery and suspense kept me turning page after page. The further the story went along, the faster I read and the quicker I turned the pages. This could ...   Read More

mainlinebooker

Run...to get this
I almost got into 3 accidents because I kept trying to read this at every stop light while I was in the car. Perfect for vacation, a long flight or just everyday reading. The tension continued to build in this book until the last couple of pages and ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Amnesia

Amnesia, also known as "amnestic syndrome," refers to a person's inability to retrieve memories or pieces of information from the brain and occurs when the areas of the brain responsible for recovering stored information become compromised by physical or psychological damage.

The limbic system Several structures located deep within the brain, such as the hippocampus (responsible for the formation and storage of memories) and the thalamus (involved in the regulation of sensory perception), comprise the limbic system, a complex network that controls our emotional responses, survival instincts, memory creation, and memory retrieval. Amnesia can be caused by physical or psychological trauma to these structures, brought on by diseases such as Alzheimer's, ...

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