S.J. Watson’s Debut Novel Goes Hollywood


I have the tendency to scour bookstores whenever it is raining (living in Vancouver—this happens a lot). Therefore, I have accumulated quite the stash of books that just end up sitting on my bookshelf until I actually have the time to give them a read.

I had the book Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson for quite some time before I flipped it open and was transported into a world of the unknown. What originally compelled me to buy this novel in the first place was the sense of mystery it conveyed just from the description on the back cover.

The main character—Christine, wakes up one morning next to a man she does not recognize. She tries to recount her last night’s events but isn’t able to place the mysterious man. Not only does she not recognize the man, but she also sees a much older version of herself in the mirror. After absorbing her surroundings—pictures of her with him and a wedding ring—she comes to realize this man is her husband. Every day she wakes up confused and he must explain to her that she was in an accident and had lost her memory. But to Christine, her husband’s explanations do not quite add up and nothing seems to make sense. She questions her sanity, and is unsure if she is able to really trust this man she has no recollection of. She starts to see a therapist without her husband’s knowledge and he convinces her to keep a journal, in order to track her everyday thoughts and events to help piece together her past life.

The therapist makes sure to contact Christine on a daily basis to remind her of her situation and to read her journal. Upon reading her journal, she is aware of her story and the discoveries she has made from previous days—but must continue to search for more answers (while keeping it a secret from her husband.)

As soon as I read the first page of this book, I was captivated by her story. The confusion, the unknown, and the thrilling nature of this book will grip you from the very beginning until the last paragraph. I felt that after every new discovery she made and the insight she gained into her past, that I had to keep reading to discover the truth.

This is S.J. Watson’s debut novel that quickly became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into over 30 languages. It was number 7 on the U.S. bestseller list, which is the highest position for a debut novel since J.K. Rowling.

The book did so well in fact, that they’ve started filming a movie based on it. The film doesn’t have a specific release date yet but is expected to come out some time later this year. Some big names will be starring in it including Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers with some mystery and suspense—I highly suggest you give this book a read. It will captivate you with its twists and turns and urge you to keep moving forward. Although it can be hard to follow at times, seeing as a large part of it is going back in time to recount events from her journal, one thing is for sure: it will keep you guessing.