Before I Go To Sleep
S J Watson
Memories define us.
So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?
Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight.
And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.
Welcome to Christine's life.
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, which 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 un-believable it seems.
The opening is intriguing, with an interesting psychological premise. What if we woke up with little memory?
Our memories define us and make us who we are, equally, so do other people’s memories of us. Would your partner still love you if they couldn’t recognise you?
Christine thinks she’s survived a car crash and developed a form of amnesia which has left her able to remember for just 24 hours. So each morning she must learn everything again, from scratch. She must meet her husband again, learn what she looks like herself, and discover if she has children.
It’s an ambitious plot but handled well, slowly building to a chilling climax with a killer twist.
Christine is a fascinating character in that the reader has to get to know a women that doesn’t know who she is, starting every day anew.
To avoid being Groundhog Day, and repetitive, a journal becomes the structure for the novel, which becomes a whodunit with the reader questioning everyone and their motives.
Now sold in over 30 languages around the world, Before I Go To Sleep has been also been acquired for film by Ridley Scott's production company Scott Free.
About S J Watson:
S J Watson (Steve) was born in the Midlands, lives in London and worked in the NHS for a number of years.
In 2008 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy 'Writing a Novel' Course, a programme that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go to Sleep is the result.