‘Before I go to sleep’

Holy Moly!!!!

I was completely unprepared for this book! It was recommended to me by a colleague who had listened to the audio book on Radio 4 and I was intrigued! So, having a kindle…I bought the book there and then and began reading it on my way home that night – wow! Now, I always go on about loving crime fiction and finding it hard to be surprised by books…this completely blew that out of the water! I kept thinking that I knew what was going to happen, only for it to be completely shattered! It’s quite hard to put this book into a genre but I’d go for psychological thriller fiction?

What I also love about this book is that it is S J Watson’s first novel, which gives budding writers (like me…yes I’ve been very lazy recently…) a burst of inspiration! As I write this, the novel remains at number one in the book charts!

Anywho, this is another book that has done remarkably well in the charts for good reason! It is a cracking read! Our protagonist is Christine Lucas, a 47 year old amnesiac who wakes up each day convinced that she is a twenty-something at the start of her life. Each morning, her memory is wiped clean from the night before…now, I think you must have already realised that there is A LOT more to the novel than this ‘50 First Dates‘ – esque narrative. As the plot develops, Christine finds that there is a lot more to her life than she knows or is being told…

This book focuses heavily on the concept and importance of memories and how they define us. We never think about what would happen if we couldn’t remember things, whether we’d still be the person we think we are, whether we would still feel the same way about loved ones…for Christine, she must learn who she has become every day and who her husband is! Ben has to tell her who he is, who she is and explain about the accident that caused her to lose her memory and effectively, her life. Another theme that takes centre-stage in the novel is the issue of trust…how do we really know who we can trust? So the two themes interweaving throughout the novel make for a tremendously exciting read!

At the start of the book, she receives a phone call from Dr Nash, who has apparently been working with her to try and retrieve her memories over the past few weeks…he tells her that she has been writing a journal in order to try and retain memories, which he currently has in his possession. She agrees to meet him and collect the journal and on the very front page in her handwriting are the following words:

“DON’T TRUST BEN!”

Dum dum dummmmmm!

As the novel progresses, the horrors that Christine faces everyday become more and more terrifying, you find yourself willing her to remember, pleading with the author for Christine to remember what has happened and what is happening but this moment seems less and less tangible as the narrative develops.

This is a fantastic chilling read and is really quite haunting as both a novel and a concept! I couldn’t put it down! I’ve recommended it to so many people already but will continue to do so! I’m really looking forward to reading more from S J Watson in the future!

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‘The Lollipop Shoes’

This is another one of the books that I read whilst on holiday this summer, The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris is a sequel to Chocolat and I’m actually ashamed to say that I haven’t read Chocolat yet…I know! Anyway, it will be one of my next purchases as I really enjoyed the sequel, which bodes well! It was also good that instead of feeling that I should have read Chocolat first, I actually feel like I really want to read it now…not because I feel like I’m missing out, but rather that I want more of the magical story!

The book entwines the stories of Vianne Rocher and Zosie de l’Alba…Vianne, is a chocolatier who after travelling around for much of her life, settles in Montmartre and is trying to have a normal life (whatever that is!) and Zosie likes to think of herself as a collector of identities…though she actually steals them! Zosie is an interesting character from the outset as, not knowing about the magic which threads itself throughout the plot…I actually thought that she was just out to get as much money as she could, picking up bank details, credit cards and the like…but it is much more complex than that! As the magic starts to reveal itself, the plot becomes even more enthralling! But I couldn’t help hoping that Zosie would just leave this little family (Vianne and her two children, Anouk and Rosette) alone! The story is told from the perspectives of Vianne, Zosie and also Anouk (a.k.a. Annie) and it becomes quite haunting reading the contradictory perspectives one after the other as Zosie’s obsession with stealing Vianne’s life grows! It was chilling that while on the one hand she was enriching the lives of those around her, Anouk was doing better in school and Vianne had started making the chocolates from scratch again for example…she was doing those things purely so that when she takes over, the life will be easier and richer! For example, in spite of helping Anouk in school with the “friends” that she is getting upset over, she unknowingly helps Anouk find a boyfriend who she is very fond of…only to suddenly slip a little something in his truffle! Although we are aware of Zosie’s past and become increasingly aware that she won’t let anything stand in her way…the extent that she is prepared to go for this identity is quite startling! I was also really moved by the sections with Roux, especially when he meets Rosette for the first time and I found myself desperate for him to come back and follow his instincts about Zosie and save the day!

This is simply a wonderful book and I can’t wait to read Chocolat! Also, the fact that the book is full of descriptions of chocolate is a pretty wonderful thing too! I could almost taste Vianne’s hot chocolate when I read this book! The seductive power of chocolate overwhelms both the characters and the reader, which is a real testament to Harris’s writing!