Before I Go To Sleep is the debut novel of the British writer S. J. Watson. It is a crime thriller, and full of psychological terror.
The protagonist of this book is Christine Lucas. Christine wakes up every morning with the memory of the last 20 years of her life erased. She does not recognize the man in her bed. She does not recognize the house she is in, nor her clothes nor even her face in the mirror.
When her husband, Ben, wakes he explains to her that she has lost her memory as the result of a long-ago accident. While walking, she was mowed down by a hit and run driver. It is a miracle that she survived this horrendous accident. Before going off to work as a school teacher, Ben sows Christine some photos of their life together. When she wonders why there are so few photos, he explains that most of their belongings were lost in a fire.
Soon after Ben leaves, a phone in Christine’s pocketbook rings. It is not the cell phone that Ben has given to her (and explained how to use). On the line is Dr. Nash, a neuropsychologist who has been working regularly with Christine. He urges her to look in her diary to confirm their appointment for this day. When Christine meets Dr. Nash later, he explains that she has a form of amnesia that causes an inability to form new memories. She is barely remembering old memories as well. Dr. Nash has convinced Christine to write secretly in a journal, in an attempt to jog her memory.
When Christine retrieves her journal from its hiding place, she notes with surprise the three words written in the front: DON’T TRUST BEN. Why did Christine write this? She is seeing Dr. Nash without the knowledge of her husband. Maybe Dr. Nash is not to be trusted. And what has happened to Christine and Ben’s son, Adam? There are no photos of him, yet Christine soon remembers him.
This is a complex and compelling novel. It is well-written and suspenseful. An international best-seller, the movie rights have been acquired by Ridley Scott’s production company. The project is “in development” as they say in Hollywood. Hopefully it will reach the big screen. This book was a great read and would make a great movie.
Published in hardcover-Harper-2011
Softcover edition-Harper Paperbacks-2012