Blasts from the Past: Sleep with Me by Joanna Briscoe (2005)

Cover imageThis is the latest in a series of occasional posts featuring books I read years ago about which I was wildly enthusiastic at the time, wanting to press a copy into as many hands as I could.

Coupling sensual prose with perceptive, sometimes chilling, characterisation, Joanna Briscoe’s Sleep with Me grips from the first page and continues to do so as clues and hints are spilled until the tension becomes almost unbearable in its final chapters,

Caught up in a moment of laughing, urgent desire Richard and Lelia conceive their first child just before leaving for a friend’s Christmas party. Delighted with each other they barely notice the nondescript woman on the fringes of the party but soon she’s insinuated herself into their lives until Richard is in the grips of an all-consuming erotic obsession and Lelia is haunted by glimpses of a long buried past. Richard’s ambivalence about the birth of their child and Lelia’s loneliness at his emotional desertion only serve to drive a further wedge between them and as Sylvie’s influence pervades their lives their relationship is strained to breaking point. Briscoe’s novel is a story of betrayal and desire which builds to a shocking denouement as the extent of Sylvie’s manipulation is revealed.

I remember being enthralled with Sleep with Me whose story brought to mind Simone de Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay. Writing this has reminded me that Andrew Davies adapted Briscoe’s novel for TV back in 2009 which I managed to miss. Adaptations frequently fall flat but I loved Davies’ sassy, bitingly funny Vanity Fair. Anyone seen it?

What about you, any blasts from the past you’d like to share?

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16 thoughts on “Blasts from the Past: Sleep with Me by Joanna Briscoe (2005)”

  1. I remember reading this book and finding it very compelling (and quite creepy!) too – it’s good be reminded of it here. Sadly, the TV movie had fairly lukewarm reviews despite the strong cast and creative team. I don’t think I watched it at the time…

    1. Given Jacqui’s comment, it does sound unmemorable although I’m perfectly capable of getting some way into a drama only to realise I’ve seen it before! The book is memorable, though.

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