Monday, June 13, 2011
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
She awakens every day in a bed she doesn't recognize, next to an older man she doesn't recall, in a room she doesn't know. Wondering if she may have had a terrible one-night-stand mistake, she creeps to the bathroom and closes the door. She reaches to wash her hands, and is shocked to see how aged her hands look. Then she looks in the mirror and does not see what she expects: she sees a middle-aged woman.
Panicking, she runs into the bedroom, where the man tells her he is her husband, Ben. She is Christine Lucas. She had an accident and has lost her memory. He shows her the pictures throughout the house of them together over time, and she finally calms outwardly, even though inside she is freaking out.
Ben goes to work, having left her with a list of instructions and a cell phone to call him if she needs anything. Later, a different phone rings in her bag - a second phone. She answers it, and it is Dr. Nash reminding her of their appointment later. He is a neurologist and tells her she's been seeing him without her husband's knowledge. He tells her she asked him to call and remind her that her journal is in the closet.
She finds it just where he said it would be and in the front cover is her name: Christine Lucas. Below it is written, in the same handwriting and underlined: "DO NOT TRUST BEN."
This was one of the most intensely satisfying, tightly wound suspense novels I've ever read. The plot unfolds hundreds of revelations to Christine, unexpected knowledge of what Ben has kept from her to protect her from the 20+ years of amnesia she's suffered. She can remember everything that happens in a day, including flashes of her life before the accident that took her memory. But when she goes to sleep at night, all of those memories are erased.
Dr. Nash, a neuropsychologist helps Christine start on a journal, and she records every flash or memory of import of each day before she goes to sleep and loses them. Every day Dr. Nash calls to remind her about the journal and where she has hidden it. Every day Dr. Nash is a stranger and the journal is something new to her. She begins questioning what she is told by those closest to her as more and more memories fill her days.