Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe

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Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Richard and Lelia have each other. And although they don't yet realise it, they also have Sylvie. And Sylvie is not as transluscent as everyone would like to believe. This tale of the eternal triangle has a definite twist and had our reviewer enchanted and enraptured until the end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: June 2006
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 0747580774

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Before I read the blurb on the back, I judged this book by its cover. I assumed it was, as one of my fellow reviewers calls them, a Hooker Book. You know, one of those blog style "true" life tales about women who go on the game because they can't afford their handbag habit? Anyway, I'd overlooked it many times over until recently during a fit of crystalline genre boredom and to my glee discovered it wasn't, so I thought I would give it a run for its money. I'm pretty glad I did, even though it took a little while (the first thirty to forty pages) to get warmed up.

The scene is set as Richard and Lelia's child is conceived, a "quickie" as they are about to leave home to go to a dinner party at a friend's house. And although neither of them are truly aware of her, it is here that they meet Sylvie and she is little more to them than a flash of grey; a blur. A beige person.

But Sylvie is suddenly and unexpectedly everywhere and she soon assimilates herself, silently and seamlessly, into their separate lives. Richard is beguiled by her and as Lelia's pregnancy progresses, Richard's ambivalence towards her and their child causes Lelia to descend into a spiral of pain and torment from her past. She is easily tempted into taking Sylvie's proffered hand of friendship and yet there seems to be something mildly malefic about her that Lelia cannot put her finger on.

Sylvie's ghostly and constant presence in Richard and Lelia's lives casts a shadow over their relationship that they are not sure they will be able to recover from. As Richard's obsession deepens, he withdraws further from Lelia who in turn reflects and dwells more and more on her troubling past. Sylvie has become a manifestation that they can no longer ignore.

Whilst I enjoyed Briscoe's classical style of writing (I think she had a Bronte/Hardy/Lawrence reading fest before embarking on the writing of this tome) I can understand that some may find it hard going, however, I believe it's worth persevering - and I read some reviews that slashed it to pieces. Further, as the tale is told using both Richard and Lelia in the first person, the reader is equipped with an almost 360 degree vantage point of the story, which I found helpful since at times, the weave of the plot could be confusing. Ultimately, Briscoe's fluid hand compels you to invite the characters under your skin; you magically feel the gamut of emotions throughout the story as the tale unfolds. She is certainly unafraid to tackle a knotty and discomforting subject matter!

Sleep With Me is beautifully and honestly written with characters that are fleshed out to the fullest of their humanity. There are very few scenes set, but in those that are, I believe you are left with a clear facsimile of the picture Briscoe had in her mind when she put the words on the page. I liked the characters; their fallability, imperfections and weaknesses and the scenes of intimacy are so delicately and erotically written, I don't think I have ever read anything as elegantly and subtly told. The eternal triangle may be a well-thumbed subject, but in my opinion, Briscoe's is the way to do it.

If you have read and enjoyed this book then you might also like Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg and although it has a different subject matter, Hidden by Katy Gardner as the authors share a similar depth of significance. In fact, all three writers use an ability to tell their story with very little solidity or substance, instead preferring the reader to find their own story within the text and only providing hints and flickers of what could be, to guide you along the way.

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Buy Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe at


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