March 10th, 2012


Books 19-20: Before I Go to Sleep and Utterly Monkey

Book 19: Before I Go to Sleep.
Author: S.J. Watson, 2011.
Genre: Psychological Thriller.
Other Details: Paperback. 379 pages.

Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories. - from author's web site.

This novel takes the form of a journal written by Christine. She has been encouraged to keep this journal by Dr Nash, who has, without Ben's knowledge, taken an interest in her case. Even though she has to be reminded every day by Nash that she is writing in the journal, it soon becomes a life line and assists her to discover things she has forgotten day-to-day. However, when she discovers that Ben is concealing key facts about her past, she is unsure whether he is doing this to avoid upsetting her or as a form of manipulation.

It is quite common to emerge from deep sleep with a sense of disorientation that may last only a few seconds before memory floods in and we recognise our bedrooms and recall who, when and where we are. What makes this novel so compelling is that for its narrator, Christine, there is no memory just bewilderment. Every day she has to rebuild her memories with the help of her husband, who we know from the teaser blurbs and opening chapter may not be all that trust-worthy. This was selected for a reading group so unsure if I would have picked it up myself. I certainly found that once I started reading it was very hard to put it down. There were some moments that certainly sent chills down my spine. Overall an effective and clever thriller.

S.J. Watson's page on 'Before I Go to Sleep' - contains link to excerpt.

Book 20: Utterly Monkey.
Author: Nick Laird, 2005.
Genre: Comedy-Drama, Lad Lit.
Other Details: Paperback. 368 pages.

Danny Williams in a 27-year old solicitor, working long hours in the Commercial Litigation Department of a large London law firm and having various issues with his co-workers and boss. Originally from Northern Ireland, he feels that life is far behind him until his old school friend Geordie Wilson turns up on his doorstep. Danny isn't aware that Geordie is on the run having accidentally stolen the operational funds belonging to a Loyalist group. Not a healthy situation for either of them.

The novel is set over a five day period in London and Belfast with laddish capers at its heart. Some reviewers on Amazon/Goodreads favourably compared the novel to Guy Ritchie's work, which may explain why this book didn't work for me as aside from his Sherlock Holmes films I've not been able to sit through any of his films. It is obvious that there is a readership for this kind of novel but 'lad lit' just isn't my thing. The only reason I even finished it was because it was selected by my library reading group so wanted to give it a fair chance even though it proved a chore.