Book Review: Second Life by S J Watson

Second life

Earlier in the year I read ‘Before I Go To Sleep‘ by S J Watson. I liked it – but it had been hyped by friends before I read it – and it wasn’t as amazing as I’d expected. I went into this, SJ Watson’s next book, without any preconceived ideas apart from this fairly vague Amazon blurb:

“She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger.
She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything.
She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control.
She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin.
She’s living two lives. She might lose both . . .”

Again SJ Watson is writing as a woman (he’s a bloke) – this time as Julia.  She obviously has her historic demons (it is revealed fairly early on that she’s an alcoholic – and I felt these parts were described incredibly well, it even made me go properly on the wagon for a bit!!) The story is based about the fact that her sister has been murdered in Paris – and Julia’s attempt to uncover what has happened.

I can’t really say much more without giving away huge chunks of the plot – it twists and turns brilliantly with lots of things interlinking.  Sometimes it is a bit far fetched – but not so much it makes it totally unbelievable.  The use of social media / the internet / apps makes it seem very up to date in setting – and all of this makes some of the coincidences less coincidental.

I have to say there were times when I was shouting at Julia to tell someone else the truth – but to actually be in that situation must be so difficult, and reasonable behaviour may well go out the window.

As with Before I Go To Sleep it picks up pace towards the end and gets more and more exciting – but still the ending is a total shock.  I can’t say any more than that!!

I really enjoyed it – much more than Before I Go To Sleep – and would definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

I was lent this in a proper, old fashioned book format by a friend – and a number of friends had really enjoyed it. On Facebook it had a bit of a ‘marmite’ response from people – either loved or disappointed (when I posted a photo of it – with my non-alcoholic beer – whilst chaperoning some ten pin bowling 11 year old girls!!)

Beer and book

It’s not a new book (first published in 2011) and has been made into a film (starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman no less – thankfully I had started reading before I knew this, so had already imagined the characters in my head -and they definitely weren’t Colin and Nic!).

This is the Amazon blurb about it:

“Memories define us.
So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?
Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.
And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.
Welcome to Christine’s life.”

Initially I was really interested in Christine’s life – waking up each morning having forgotten the last 20+ years.  Imagine how horrific it would be to wake up each morning and look in the mirror and see your Mum looking back!?!  Christine then starts to keep a journal so that she can remember things she’s discovered about her past and isn’t starting from a blank page (boom!) each day.

The middle section of the book is supposed to be this journal – and I found this section dull and repetitive and it REALLLLY DRAGGGGGED.  Now I guess that is kind of the point – as it’s exactly what Christine was having to do by re-reading about her life each day – but I didn’t enjoy this bit at all (but I am really impatient!)

The final section picked up again – and was ‘edge of the seat’ exciting (so I read late into the night to finish it!)  I really enjoyed how it all concluded.

So I guess it wasn’t ‘marmite’ for me.  I neither loved it nor loathed it – I just kind of liked it.  Not sure that will ever make the strapline on a book cover….

Having said that – I have downloaded ‘Second Life‘ which is the new book from SJ Watson published a couple of weeks ago (and only £1.88 on Amazon at the moment!).  Partly because I found out that SJ is from the Midlands and we have to support our own!  Oh – and I was surprised Mr Watson is a bloke – I guess because he wrote so well about being a woman.  But then if people write well about murder you wouldn’t expect them to be trained killers………..