Now On My Kindle

September 2nd, 2011 by Jane Heller

During my month-long stay in CT, I downloaded novels like crazy. Two of the best were deeply affecting and not for those who like their fiction upbeat and cheerful.

The first book in the dynamic duo was “Before I Go To Sleep.”

A debut novel by S.J. Watson, this story held me spellbound from its first page to its last. Seriously. It’s a thriller in the best sense of the word – a book that surprises and scares and keeps you guessing what will happen next. Its heroine wakes up every morning with no memory. She suffers from a very unique brand of amnesia that requires her to keep a daily journal in order to remember who she is and, with any luck, what got her into the precarious state she’s in. Can she trust her husband? Can she trust the doctor who’s treating her? Can she trust her best friend? The author does a skillful job of making the story plausible and the heroine flawed yet someone we can root for. I highly recommend the book unless you’re easily spooked.

My number two favorite was “Room.”

People have been talking and debating and book-clubbing over Emma Donoghue’s novel, so I was curious what my opinion of it would be. What I came away with was a profound appreciation for a writer who took a difficult subject, gave it a five-year-old boy as its narrator and kept the voice consistent throughout.

“Room” is the story of a young woman who was abducted by a brutal rapist, held captive in a garden shed and, after she gave birth to a son, had to mother the boy in their confined space until they escaped. From the boy’s perspective, it’s the outside world that’s full of danger and pain and strange people. Some readers have criticized Donoghue for ending the novel too abruptly and without sufficient resolution, but I appreciate that she left something to our imagination. In my view, the ending was just right – disturbing but appropriate.

I’m just starting another novel, but both “Before I Go To Sleep” and “Room” are staying with me. Maybe I’m not ready to move on.


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4 Responses to “Now On My Kindle”

  1. Kristen says:

    I’ll have to check Room out in particular. I loved Donoghue’s Slammerkin and Life Mask but hadn’t paid much attention to her non-historical fiction. I gather Room was in part inspired by the Jacyee Dugard case. She seems to do that a lot and do it well. She was inspired to write Slammerkin based on a historical crime that she fleshed out into a full story in an attempt to explain the criminal’s motivation and Life Mask by a social and political scandal that rocked 1790’s England.

  2. Jane Heller says:

    I read that Room was written before Jaycee Dugard was freed, Kristen, but it makes more sense the other way around. All I know is that telling a story from the child’s pov was an amazing task and it worked for me. Given what you’ve said about Donoghue’s historical fiction, she’s a master at turning these criminal cases into compelling stories.

  3. Melissa says:

    This quote expresses your feelings well.

    All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes — characters even — caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.”
    — Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale)

  4. Jane Heller says:

    I love that quote, Melissa. It does express exactly how I feel. I started another novel today but I really haven’t shaken off the previous two (“Room,” especially).