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A tautly plotted novel of adultery and betrayal.
“The day our child was conceived, someone else arrived. She was there as the cells fused, like a ghost.” In a moment of giggling chaos, Richard and Lelia sleep together while getting dressed for a holiday party. Arriving late and still flushed, they barely register a slight, drab woman who, like a shadow, threatens the happiness they’ve achieved. Their reality slowly shifts: Mysterious fragments of a story about a troubled child appear on Richard’s e-mail. A friend confides his adulterous affair, and Richard voyeuristically hangs on every detail. Richard grows more ambivalent about the approaching birth of his child; he becomes distracted and remote, and Lelia suspects another woman. In her loneliness and longing Lelia makes a surprising decision that nearly destroys the life that she and Richard have worked so hard to create. Told with astonishing clarity from both Richard and Lelia’s points of view, Sleep with Me is an extraordinary tale of obsession and desire that takes hold, body and soul, and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned.
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Joanna Briscoe has written two novels: Mothers and Other Lovers, which won the Betty Trask Award, and Skin. She lives in London.
The smart, suspenseful U.S. debut of Brit Briscoe (Skin; Mothers and Other Lovers) begins between the sheets as 30-somethings Lelia and Richard unknowingly conceive a child before breathlessly skipping across town to a friend's Christmas party. Though Richard, a newspaper editor, and Lelia, an academic, struggle with their careers, their values and the question of marriage, they are content in their relationship and their future together. Enter Sylvie Lavigne, a nondescript friend of a friend, new to town, who suddenly, mysteriously appears at their every turn. Richard receives a series of unsettling anonymous e-mails, serialized snippets of a Victorian-style novel with macabre overtones. As Lelia's pregnancy advances, both Lelia and Richard discover that their domestic calm is bound up in a web of deceit, uncertainty and unresolved memories. Told from alternating points of view, the story follows the couple as they become consumed by their individual doubts and obsessions. Briscoe has a knack for rendering a contemporary, urban setting, and her characters are intelligent and psychologically insightful, believable even as the plot takes its most fantastical twists. (Oct.)
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