The House of Sleep

The House of Sleep

3.94 (6,735 ratings by Goodreads)
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Sarah is narcoleptic. Her inability to distinguish between dreams and waking reality gives rise to many misunderstandings. For Terry, a disillusioned film critic, sleep is merely a memory. For Dr Dunstan, sleep is nothing less than a global disease. Constructed to reflect the different stages of sleep, "The House of Sleep" is a brilliant and original comedy about the powers we acquire - and those we relinqish - when we fall asleep, and when we fall in love. "It must be one of the best books of the year" - Malcolm Bradbury in "The Times."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 26mm | 299.37g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140250832
  • 9780140250831
  • 1,149,178

Author information

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. He has published seven novels, all of which are available in Penguin: The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death, What a Carve Up!, which won the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The House of Sleep, which won the 1998 Prix Medicis Etranger, The Rotter's Club, winner of the Everyman Wodehouse Prize and The Closed Circle. He has also published a biography of the novelist B.S. Johnson, which won the Orwell prize in 2005. He lives in London with his wife and two more

Review Text

An audacious, often wickedly funny meditation on the vexed precincts of sleep and sex, following the adventures of four characters whose wayward paths repeatedly intertwine, by the author of The Winshaw Legacy (1995). Ashdown, an elderly mansion on the English coast, is serving, in 1983, as a residence for university students. Bright, insecure Sarah lives there, trapped in a relationship with manipulative Gregory, and increasingly drawn to fragile, troubled Robert. Terry, obsessed with cinema, shares with Sarah a sleep disorder: Sarah falls into fugue-like states in which her dreams become more convincing than reality; Terry, fueled by coffee and the drive to succeed, finds it increasingly difficult to sleep at all. Gregory dumps Sarah, and goes off to London to make his way in medical research. Robert disappears, and is later rumored to be dead. Thirteen years later, Terry and Gregory end up back at Ashdown. It has now become the site of Gregory's controversial sleep research clinic. Terry, a failed writer, returns as a patient, having, he claims, been unable to sleep for most of the past decade. Convinced that humanity is tyrannized by sleep, Gregory is secretly searching for a way to teach humans to do without it, experimenting on rats, dogs, and, finally, people - with devastating results. Sarah, having tried both marriage and a long lesbian affair, still pines for Robert. The hectic plot provides Coe with plenty of opportunities to satirize British medicine and the increasingly harsh, hustling nature of British society, as well as the confusions of modern love. Weaving through the story, offering a variety of metaphors for creativity and sex, is the dark river of sleep. Gregory gets a grisly, appropriate comeuppance, and an astonishingly transformed Robert reunites with Sarah in one of the strangest, and most moving, encounters in recent fiction. In all: a droll, ingenious novel, its satire nicely leavened by tree romance. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

6,735 ratings
3.94 out of 5 stars
5 31% (2,072)
4 41% (2,736)
3 22% (1,482)
2 5% (356)
1 1% (89)
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