Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.
(Cover blurb for Before I Go To Sleep.)
Before I Go To Sleep is a deep insight into what it must be like to live with amnesia: the fear and horror of not knowing anything, the world being a strange place, and discovering each day that you're twenty-odd years older than you thought. There were almost time-travel elements, as of course the world has changed a lot in the past decades. Where the world has changed gradually, to Christine it happens all at once, and she has to come to terms with the existence of mobile phones, photoshop, the Gherkin and London Eye - and living in a post 9/11 world without any understanding of the significance of that date - or knowledge that it is a significant date at all. "I must have missed so much," Christine writes. "Disasters, tragedies, wars. Whole countries might have fallen to pieces as I wandered, oblivious, from one day to the next."
Being a book all about memory, there are inevitably plenty of flashbacks, which are rather disorientating to read. Christine's mind is a very intense, confusing place to be, and the flashbacks can read like actual, physical shifts in time. Her perception of the world is a mishmash of past and present, real and imagined, and filling in the gaps where memories ought to be - but aren't.
The storytelling is very well-paced, with questions answered at satisfactory intervals - and with every question answered, another two are raised. The most straight-forward resolutions to mysteries add to the suspicion by posing another question: if this is the truth, why lie about it or conceal it up until now? Before I Go To Sleep is an intelligent, well-written thriller and psychological study that keeps you turning the pages wanting to know just what's going on. Although I had guessed at a major twist early on, it was revealed to give me a sense of satisfaction for figuring it out, rather than disappointment with the author for not being cleverer than me - a rare achievement.