The summer’s single most suspenseful plot belongs to Before I Go to Sleep, by another debut author, S. J. Watson. Its heroine, the middle-aged Christine, is the spookiest amnesiac in a season that’s full of them.... Mr. Watson has written this as pure page-turner — though stories as high-concept as this tend to begin more excitingly than they end.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
Imagine drifting off every night knowing that your memories will be wiped away by morning. That’s the fate of Christine Lucas, whose bewildering internal world is rendered with chilling intimacy in this debut literary thriller.... You’ll stay up late reading until you know. (Four stars.)
(Starred review.) Memories—real, false, and a bit of both—are at the heart of British author Watson's haunting, twisted debut. Christine Lucas awakens each morning in London with no idea who she is or why she's in bed with a strange man, until he tells her that his name is Ben and they've been married for 22 years. Slowly, Christine learns that she has amnesia and is unable to remember her past or retain new memories: every night when she falls asleep, the slate is wiped clean. Dr. Nash, her therapist, has encouraged her to write in a journal that she keeps secret from Ben. Christine realizes how truly tangled—and dangerous—her life is after she sees the words "don't trust Ben" written in her journal, whose contents reveal that the only person she can trust is herself. Watson handles what could have turned into a cheap narrative gimmick brilliantly, building to a chillingly unexpected climax.
Christine Lucas suffers from a rare form of amnesia as the result of a vaguely defined accident. Each night as she sleeps, her near-term memory is wiped clean, and she awakens knowing little about who she is, where she is, or with whom she lives. Every day her husband, Ben, shares with her the same carefully rehearsed story of their long marriage and gently encourages her struggle to remember. She keeps a journal at the recommendation of her doctor and reads it each morning. As the journal grows, Christine begins to suspect that Ben is not telling her the complete truth about her accident, their son Adam, her successful career as a novelist, or the fire that destroyed the collection of family photos that might help her remember. It is only when she reconnects with an old friend that she learns the truth and escapes her increasingly frightening and violent captivity. Verdict: This debut novel takes an intriguingly fresh look at the amnesia-focused psychological thriller. Though the climax seems a bit hurried, this is nonetheless a captivating and highly suspenseful read, populated with believable characters who lead the reader through a taut, well-constructed plot. —Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA
(Starred review.) This mesmerizing, skillfully written debut novel works on multiple levels. It is both an affecting portrait of the profound impact of a debilitating illness and a pulse-pounding thriller whose outcome no one could predict.
(Starred review.) Watson’s debut novel unwinds as a story that is both complicated and compellingly hypnotic. . . . Watson’s pitch–perfect writing propels the story to a frenzied climax that will haunt readers long after they’ve closed the cover on this remarkable book.
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