Friday, 16 March 2012

Before I Go To Sleep

I've just finished reading SJ Watson's debut novel, 'Before I Go To Sleep'. It is the story of a 47 year-old amnesiac called Christine Lucas, who due to an accident a number of years ago cannot retain memories for longer than a day: every time she goes to sleep she forgets everything - her name, her identity, her past, those that she loves.

The story tells of her coming to terms with her past, which she begins to piece together through a journal she writes every day - and re-reads every day to remind her of who she is. More of the plot I'll not give away - read it for yourself!

It is a story of identity, of trust and betrayal. It is a gripping read, violent and disturbing in places, yet compelling. Having finished the book about 3 hours ago, I still find myself even now concerned about Christine and how she carries on with her life - you come to know and empathise with these people.

The central premise of the book - that our memories define us - left me pondering, as a person of faith, how religious conviction and a relationship with God would be affected by such tragic circumstances: If we cannot remember God, or our experiences of God, how does this affect our understanding of salvation? This has particular relevance to people of faith coming to terms with dementia, for instance: as we lose our identity, do we also lose our faith? Does faith need cognisance and memory to be real?

A marvellous book, which has rightly received many plaudits since its publication last year: I would highly recommend it to any who haven't yet come across it.