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This review is from: Before I Go To Sleep (Hardcover)
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I don't like to gush in reviews but Before I Go To Sleep deserves no less. This is a truly gripping novel that has something new to say.
Christine Lucas wakes up and doesn't know where she is; she doesn't recognize the man in bed next to her and she has no idea she is middle aged. Chrissie wakes up this way every day; the man introduces himself as Ben, her husband and offers her a scrapbook to fill in some of the details. Because Christine lost her memory in an accident twenty something years ago.
Gradually, Christine fills in the details. Until she goes to sleep and then it is all lost, and she wakes up with no memory of the previous day or the previous twenty or so years.
One day her phone rings and a man introduces himself as Dr Nash. He tells Christine that they have an appointment and he returns her journal where she has been recording events over the past few days. This has allowed Christine to read up on her knowledge each morning and take her discovery a little bit further each day. The diary opens with the words "Don't Trust Ben".
As Christine discovers more about her life, she has to decide who or what to trust. She has no particular reason to even trust her journal entries and constantly looks for corroboration. The two people in her life, Ben and Dr Nash have almost unlimited scope to take advantage of the situation by presenting what they want in the knowledge that the slate will be wiped clean the next day. But little by little, patterns start to emerge in the journal entries. Occasional memories surface too, and as they are written and reread they start to have a fragile longevity. Of course, the longevity is utterly dependent on the survival of the journal, and Christine relies on Dr Nash calling each day to remind her of its existence.
Gradually, it turns out that people are lying to Christine, manipulating her life and her feelings. The problem is knowing who is lying and why. Whether people are protecting her from a painful history or protecting their own self interest. The menace grows and grows, each day as a little bit more suspense is added to the pile. The intensity of the menace is truly awesome; the reader turns each page with a mixture of fear, horror and fascination. The levels of plotting are complex beyond belief. The emotional bonds between the characters, too, are extremely complex as they depend upon constant - daily - reevaluation.
By the end, the novel has become utterly chilling. There are twists upon twists and within twists. What appeared at first to be a melancholy study of loss and memory has become a full on thriller.
Before I Go To Sleep is unique, it is important and it will become one of the iconic books of 2011.