Before I Go To Sleep is an easy book to write about for two reasons – it’s got an easy to understand concept and I really enjoyed it.
This book is told from the perspective of Christine who, when she wakes up in the morning is in unfamiliar surroundings. This happens every morning because Christine has a condition where she doesn’t form new memories, so each new day is a kind of reset. So she wakes up every day, not knowing who the middle-aged man in bed with her is. In fact she doesn’t really recognise the woman she sees in the mirror as she remembers herself to be much younger than she actually is. Slowly, patiently the man explains that he’s her husband and he gently reminds her about some of the other facts of her life. Something he must have to do every day.
The reason this book works so well is that the early chapters work simply as an experience of what it must be like to have this kind of memory condition. If you’ve seen the movie Memento then you’ll have some idea already but this is a slightly different take on the idea. The fact that our hero is female and the setting domestic gives it a different feel. Gradually, we as the reader begin to build up a picture of Christine’s life and also some of what has happened to her. This starts to raise questions which we become aware of before she does and the remainder of the book is almost a thriller, certainly we want to know what has happened and how it will play out if and when Christine starts to discover the truth.
So in the second half of the book you lose some of the psychological subtlety of the first part but you gain a page-turning what-will-happen-next plot. It really works, I found it gripping.
9/10 – both an insight into a different kind of life and a thrilling ride.