Posts Tagged ‘amnesia’


Three stories combine…

Present Day: In Ridinghouse Bay in Northern England, Alice Lake, single mother of three young children and three dogs, finds a man on the beach. He has no idea of who he is, why he is there, or how he got there, but Alice takes pity on him and lets him stop at her holiday house. While he is there, she tries to help him recover his memories.

Meanwhile in London, young newlywed Lily who has come from her home in Ukraine to live with her husband Carl Monrose, is desperate for answers when her husband fails to come home from work. The police are dismissive of her at first, so she sets out to find him on her own.

1993: The Ross family are holidaying in Ridinghouse Bay. Son Graeme and daughter Kirsty are with their parents on the beach when a handsome and enigmatic stranger strikes up a conversation. None of them realise that this is an encounter which lead to disaster.

These three stories start out separately but soon start to intertwine, and while some parts  were sort of guessable, there were plenty of surprises too. It did take me a while to get into and I was somewhat sceptical about it at first as I did not really enjoy the last book I listened to by Lisa Jewell. However, this one won me over in the end. I listened to the audiobook which held my attention during some long and hilly runs! Narration by Antonia Beamish, who did an excellent job.

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Christine Lucas suffers from a rare form of amnesia.  While she is sleeping, she forgets everything from the day before.  She is shocked to find out that she is in her 40s, not in her 20s; she doesn’t recognise the man lying beside her who tells her he is her husband; she is unable to recognise the house she apparently lives in…and she can’t remember how she came to be like this.  As she tries to discover what caused her condition, she makes unsettling discoveries and realises that she does not know who she can trust.  Is her husband Ben being honest with her?  And is Doctor Nash really interested in helping her?  And even if she finds out the truth, what happens when she wakes the next morning and can’t remember it…?

I thought this book was absolutely fantastic; from the very beginning I knew I was going to love it.  The main character Christine was totally believable, and I felt that throughout the story I really got to know her.  As she forgot things from day to day, she was never really sure what was real and what was imagined, who to believe and who to distrust – and I went through all of these emotions with her.  As the story is told from Christine’s perspective, the reader only ever knows as much as she does.  Despite her unusual condition, she was easy to believe in and a totally realistic character.

The story itself was (and I hate to use such a cliche, but in this case it’s deserved) a real page-turner.  I had to stop myself constantly peeking a few pages ahead to see what happened, and didn’t want to put the book down.  There is a sense of menace which pervades the narrative, and I always felt that danger was just around the corner.  It was never possible to know whether Christine’s husband or indeed her doctor could be trusted.  The ending was also terrific – I genuinely would not have been able to guess what would happen (although that did not stop me trying), but the story ended on a perfect note.

This is S.J. Watson’s debut novel – it is a fantastic read, and I urge fans of all genres to pick it up.  I will certainly be looking out for the author’s future works.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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