Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Before I Go To Sleep is an incredibly thought-provoking novel, as well as an exciting psychological drama. The nature of memories, and how they create a personality, are discussed thoroughly here, as we follow Christine's story. This lifts Before I Go To Sleep into truly literary realms, providing plenty of arenas for debate.
Without our memories, who are we?
How much do memories define us?
Is lying to someone in their best interests?
This debut novel by S J Watson seeks to explore these matters, and does so within a story structure that works unbelievably well. First of all, we wake with Christine, in an unfamiliar bed, with a strange man next to her. We feel her panic, we're desperate to know what is going on and who this man is. We're aghast with her when we find out that this man is her husband. We're curious about Dr Nash, and finally we're completely engrossed as we read the story of Christine's journal, learn about what has been taking place over the last twenty years.
While the plot is simply excellent, Watson's prose cannot be dismissed as something lesser. It is his prose that keeps the reader turning pages - its simplicity, starkness and, at times, bluntness creates the atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia.
At times I was deeply uncomfortable with the subject matter and found myself confronting ideas that demand dissection. This includes the nature of consensual and non-consensual sex. If you are told that a man is your husband, if you believe this to be true and yet feel uncomfortable when he initiates sex, is this non-consensual? I have to say, every single time I put down Before I Go To Sleep, I found my thoughts returning to it. I was desperate to go back to Christine and couldn't bear the idea of not finding out what was happening.
This is one of those books where you would pay extra for another copy if your original was missing the last chapter! Before I Go To Sleep is the type of novel where you seriously consider only catching a few hours sleep yourself in order to finish reading it.
It is breathless, highly accomplished and damn near perfect. Go and buy this book today.