Before I Go to Sleep is SJ Watson's first novel, a thriller in the mold of Christopher Nolan's film on the impermanence of memory, Memento. The novel's heroine and storyteller, Chrissie, awakes in a strange bed, with a strange man sleeping beside her. A look in the bathroom mirror reveals a woman some 20 years older than she last remembers. Who is she, and how did she get here?
Able to recall only a few fragmented, disconnected memories, Chrissie comes to find that she has a rare form of amnesia, the result of some sort of head trauma suffered many years earlier. She can recall a few memories from before her accident, and can create new ones, but is unable to retain the vast majority: one night of sleep and her mind is wiped clean. A call from her neurologist, Dr. Nash (like everyone else, a stranger to Chrissie), results in the revelation that she has been keeping a detailed journal of events for the past few weeks. It is this journal that we read, following along as Chrissie makes unsettling discoveries about her past and present.
Before I Go to Sleep is a quick, compelling novel that will keep you guessing at every turn. How did Chrissie lose her memory? Why does Dr. Nash ask her to keep her journal a secret from Ben, her husband? Whose truth does she believe? Watson's writing style - simple yet evocative, never trite - elevates this beyond your average thriller.