I wouldn’t have naturally picked up this book as it doesn’t really sit comfortably in any of my regular genres, but after hearing S. J. Watson talk about it at his joint signing with Tess Gerritsen, I was intrigued.
Having just finished it, words honestly fail me. A lot of clichéd phrases go through my mind and while most of them fit, I don’t think they could do this book justice. It was quite simply phenomenal.
From the start you are drawn in to the world of a woman who wakes up every day and has no idea where she is, or the identity of the man she is sleeping next to. She’s shocked by the older woman she sees in the mirror each morning. A daily process of seeing pictures and notes left for her by her husband, to piece together just enough so she can get through the day. She can retain memory for just that day but once she sleeps, it’s all gone again.
We follow Christine as she discovers that she has been keeping a journal, that a man who calls himself Dr. Nash has been working with her to try and regain some memory and that he rings her every day to remind her where she hides it.
We experience the story through Christine’s journal, and as she reads through it, she finds out things she can’t remember having written, but has the proof in front of her. It leads to questions and then confusing and often contradictory answers about how she ended up this way, and why she is working with Dr. Nash to try and regain some semblance of life.
The story is moving and tragic and powerful. Perhaps sometimes there are things we would rather forget but to imagine not remembering anything at all is beyond distressing.
Finally, towards the end of the book, just as you think you know what is happening, as Christine thinks she knows what is happening, it all changes. The twist is monumental and incredible but utterly believable.
The entire book was gripping and thought provoking and I couldn’t put it down.
As a book, it’s brilliant. As a debut novel for S. J. Watson, it’s just amazing.
Read it… Just read it.