Sunday 25 October 2015

Book ~ "Before I Go to Sleep" (2011) S.J. Watson

From Goodreads ~ 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, that 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 unbelievable it seems. 

Christine wakes up every morning in a strange bed in a strange room with a strange man.  Every day she gets a shock when the strange man explains to her that he is Ben, her husband, and they have been married for many years.  She gets another shock when she looks in the mirror and realizes that she isn't in her twenties anymore ... she's actually middle-aged.  It turns out that Christine has amnesia because of an accident and every morning when she wakes up, she has forgotten what has happened for the last 20+ years.  And so her day begins over and over.

Every morning she gets a call from Dr. Nash, a neurologist who is working with her and writing a paper about her condition,  telling her to look in a box in her closet.  Inside that box is a journal she has started keeping, detailing each day and what she's learned about her life and who she is, in the hopes that eventually she will get her memory back.  But the things she reads about conflict and she's not sure who she can trust and what is real.

This is the debut novel of this author and the first I've read by him ... I thought it was just okay.  It is written in first person perspective from Christine's point of view ... sometimes it is the actual entries from Christine's journal.  I thought the writing was okay, though it could have been a bit tighter as I fought it dragged at times.  Yes, there was a lot of repetition because each day Christine woke up not knowing who she was and had to relearn a lot of the stuff that we already know.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I had to leave my sense of belief at the door for a lot of the book and go with it.  I found it odd that Christine and Ben have been living in their house for a few years but there was no interaction with any of the neighbours.  Christine left the house but never ran into anyone on the street?  I would think that if they knew there was a crazy lady living on the street they would be nosy and curious about her.  And it was surprising that she had no one in the whole wide world (family nor friends) other than Ben who checked in on her other than Dr. Nash, who was a secret from Ben.

It was an interesting premise which I think could have been handled better.  

 November 8 update: It was made into a movie in 2014 with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman (I'd never heard of it).  I watched it today. Though the premise is the same, a lot was different. It wasn't a very good movie :(

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