2013: Before I Go to Sleep


"The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar"

Before I Go To Sleep, SJ Watson

Oh, I was loving this book when I first started it.  It opens with Christine, freaking out because she doesn't recognize where she is - and when she looks in the mirror doesn't recognize the face she sees there - until she realizes its herself, twenty years older than she expected to be.  Soon, she is met by a strange man, who patiently tells her that he is her husband, that they have been married for years, and that she has an amnesiac condition in which she cannot remember anything from one day to the next.  Shades of Momento and even 50 First Dates, I know, but Watson expertly plays out the situation, capturing the fear and despair that Christine feels knowing that each day she goes through the same terrifying trauma.  When her husband, Ben, leaves her for the day, she gets a phone call from her doctor, reminding her that she has a notebook in which she has been writing down what she does each day, and what she remembers. We then start to read the notebook, and, see how, slowly she is starting to remember more of her life before, or at least, how by writing it down, she can accumulate more and more memory day by day. 

As I said, this was all great stuff.  The slow unpeeling of her past, Christine's basic confusion, all is expertly handled.  And, then, about three quarters of the way in, I figured the whole thing out.  And, even though I read a million mysteries, I NEVER figure them out.  I often re-read or even re-re-read mysteries, and don't remember the endings.  So, if I figured it out, it was pretty obvious.  And, unfortunately, this wasn't the kind of book where it didn't matter if you knew the answer because the characters are so interesting you want to see where their story goes.  Now, that's not necessarily the author's fault - if your main character has amnesia, she can't also have this fascinating rich inner life, and there aren't too many other characters in the book to keep you going (which is partially how I figured out the plot).  But I was disappointed, because I was so into the beginning, and was planning on writing a rave, go out and buy this review, and I can't do that now.  I'm pretty sure that you will figure out the ending, too.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017