Book review: Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson   12 Apr 2012

Tina Mair

This was the first ebook I have read on my Kindle!! Having not wanted to pack too many heavy books for my recent business trip to China I experimented with an ebook and will definitely be back for more.

Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson is the debut novel from a British audiologist- apparently written between shifts at the hospital. Anyone who has seen the film “50 First Dates” will instantly recognise the main theme – a woman has lost her memory and each day is a new voyage of discovery about her own identity.

Chrissie, the main character in the novel suffers from a rare form of amnesia brought on by an “accident” years earlier- she wakes every morning beside a man she does not recognise, in a house she cannot identify as her own space and most horrifying in a saggy middle aged body she really does not want to believe is her own. She can only retain memories for 24 hours and sleep wipes out what she has gained from the day. Her source of information about who she is, what she feels, what her life was like and is like now comes only from her husband Ben.

With the help of her doctor who is interested in her unusual case, and unbeknownst to her husband Ben, Chrissie begins to keep a journal to try to help herself to remember. Early on our suspicions are raised about “Ben”- is he really a completely selfless carer who only wants to protect Chrissie…….. or does it suit him for his “yet to be discovered but probably sinister reasons” that she actually cannot remember her own life and it is up to him to educate and manipulate her?

Our suspicions are aroused early on and confirmed by emerging details that show Ben is lying……… but why is the key question?? Why tell her she hasn’t written a novel when she has, why tell her they had no children …………… and then change the story and tell her their soldier son died recently? How convenient that most old photos were supposedly lost in a fire and even more convenient that her best friend emigrated to New Zealand and they lost touch.

The plot has some predictable elements – but nevertheless kept me engaged as Chrissie’s horrifying story slowly emerges. I felt a strong pull to “just read a bit more” to find out what would happen, did they really have a child who died, where was everyone else from her former life………. and of course just who really was Ben??

However, the ending disappointed me somewhat and I found it hard not to question some elements such as the fact that apparently a stranger is allowed to sign out a vulnerable patient with memory issues from a closed ward - and how convenient that under the circumstances none of the staff really knew what her husband looked like.

I found the build up to the climactic ending enjoyably tense, although also frustrating as it irritated me that Chrissie was now able to recount events in a far more detailed way than apparently she should have been given her memory issues. These distractions aside – the ending was satisfying as our questions have been answered.

So – my final verdict.

Gripping and entertaining.. but also a little irritating!

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Presbyterian Church to lead Waitangi Day dawn ceremony

29 Jan 2015 News
  Presbyterian Church to lead Waitangi Day dawn ceremony for first time For the first time in the history of the Presbyterian... more

Upwards NCEA trend continues

29 Jan 2015 News
New Zealand Government Upwards NCEA trend continues Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed the release of provisional results ... more

Business

NZ dollar drops after RBNZ abandons bias to raise rates

29 Jan 2015 Business News By Jonathan Underhill
Jan. 29 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar dropped, touching a four-year low, after the Reserve Bank abandoned its bias for ... more

NZ venison, lamb ventures win $41 mln of funding under PGP

29 Jan 2015 Business News
Article - BusinessDesk   NZ venison, lamb ventures targeting wealthy consumers win $41 mln of funding By Fiona Rotherham Jan. 29... more

Living

Signing - Next amazing Exhibition at Academy Galleries

28 Jan 2015 Lifestyle
Academy Galleries Signing The New Zealand Academy of Fine Art’ latest exhibition is commemorating 175 years since the signing... more

‘Sunday’ Selected for Byron Bay International Film Festival

28 Jan 2015 Lifestyle
Sunday The Film Kiwi Romance ‘Sunday’ Selected for Byron Bay International Film Festival 2015 New Zealand film... more

Property

Americans the biggest buyers of NZ land since 2010: Linz

29 Jan 2015 Property
Article - BusinessDesk   Americans the biggest buyers of New Zealand land since 2010, Linz data shows By Fiona Rotherham Jan. 29... more

Housing affordability drops 14%, driven by Auckland prices

29 Jan 2015 Property
Article - BusinessDesk   Housing affordability drops 14%, driven by Auckland house price rises By Fiona Rotherham Jan. 29 ... more

Migration

Free new Kiwi workshops return for fresh season

23 Jan 2015 Migration
Newcomer settlement support agency Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) is kick-starting the New Year with the return of its ... more

Overstayer numbers at record low

22 Dec 2014 Migration
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes new figures showing New Zealand overstayer numbers are at the lowest since 2000. A... more

Travel

Fifteen New Zealand spots to visit in 2015

23 Jan 2015 NZ Tourism
Need some inspiration for the year ahead? Here are some brilliant things to do around the country. 1. Crankworx The world's... more

Holiday parks making most of sunshine

22 Jan 2015 NZ Tourism
Holiday parks are reaping the benefits of the great holiday weather, starting the new year with record-equalling confidence... more

Sport

Mannering caps landmark year at NZRL Awards

29 Jan 2015 Rugby League
NZRL Mannering caps landmark year at NZRL Awards NZ skipper Simon Mannering has captured NZ rugby league’s top honour for... more

Mojo Pulse 2015 Pre-season Games Announced

29 Jan 2015 Netball
Netball Central Zone Mojo Pulse 2015 Pre-season Games Announced 29 January 2015 With only 30 days till the start of the 2015 ANZ... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Eleanor Catton rumpus

29 Jan 2015 Column
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the Eleanor Catton rumpus by Gordon Campbell If anyone was in doubt about the... more

Gordon Campbell on the Sabin case, and pressures on Greece and coyotes

28 Jan 2015 Opinion By Gordon Campbell
  Brain fades are one thing, but the brain freeze that seems to have beset the Prime Minister over the Mike Sabin affair is... more

Kiwi Success

Xero names US-based Douglas Jeffries as CFO

29 Jan 2015 Appointments By Tina Morrison
Xero names US-based Douglas Jeffries as CFO as it targets North American market By Tina Morrison Jan. 29 (BusinessDesk) - Xero, the... more

New Zealand scientist receives top award in China

16 Jan 2015 People
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed the news that Kiwi scientist Dr Phil Rolston has been awarded the Chinese ... more

Recruitment

Tainui's Mike Pohio resigns

23 Jan 2015 Recruitment
By Fiona Rotherham Jan. 23 (BusinessDesk) - Mike Pohio, chief executive of Tainui Group Holdings, has resigned after eight years at... more

Manufacturing activity rises to decade high in December

22 Jan 2015 Recruitment
By Suze Metherell Jan. 22 (BusinessDesk) - Activity in New Zealand's manufacturing sector rose last month to its highest level in a... more