Tonight is book club! What would I do without my monthly Sanity Seekers get together? Especially with this winter’s crazy weather. Half the roads around my city are closed and they’re not recommending travel on the other half.
Spring where art thou?
Thank goodness for great books. And our March selection (thank you, Jodi) was indeed one of those great reads. Before I Go To Sleep is S.J. Watson‘s debut novel.
Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.
This book was lent to me and handed over with a less than stellar recommendation. As in I didn’t like this book but here you go, enjoy. That’s the great thing about book club. The varied opinions. Because this psychological thriller drew me in from the very first page. I could not put it down. The writing is deceptively simple and direct. And Watson had me guessing until the very end. My mind did back flips trying to figure out who the bad guy was. You wouldn’t believe one of the scenarios I came up with. You become that desperate to figure it out. And that was part of the appeal. The guessing. The wondering. You know it’s bad. Very, very bad. As her paranoia ebbs and flows, so does yours.
95% of the books we read for book club are literary fiction. My personal reading is 98% HEA. It evens out. But I was thrilled to read a book with a strong plot that was descriptive in a way that wasn’t fanciful but practical. The last couple of books we’ve read have been very descriptive. And that’s wonderful. But sometimes a tree is just a tree.
What’s also interesting is the story on how this book came to be written. For any writer who’s considered a creative course or retreat to add focus you might be inspired by Watson’s story.
I can’t remember the last time I didn’t simply snatch minutes here and there to read a few pages but settled in for an afternoon and immersed myself in a book. Thanks for a great read SJ Watson. You took my mind off winter in epic storytelling fashion.
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Jorge Luis Borges