Monday, 25 January 2010

Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe

A wonderfully creepy and intense novel about sex and obsession, Sleep With Me follows the life of Bloomsbury couple Richard and Lelia, both of whom find themselves seduced by the faithless fascinating oddity Sylvie Lavigne.


Beware of mice, warns Briscoe, as the anonymous looking Sylvie winds her way into Richard and Lelia’s life just as Lelia falls pregnant. Unfortunately, Richard appears to be unable to make a decision without first consulting his willy, so his judgment is distinctly cloudy when the temptation of starting a clandestine affair with Sylvie presents itself. In a situation like that, it’s perhaps also better not to be fuddled by booze at a house party:

My half-sentences were truncated by wine so that I could hardly speak.

Richard’s friend MacDara is also in the throes of an affair, a mystery woman stalking him, and messing around with his head. Richard gets sozzled with him in a restaurant and considers confessing his own infidelity:

I took a vast gulp of rough red wine, then another. Its warmth travelled up my spinal cord to my head, and tempting plans began to bloom.

Perhaps he should have done. Sylvie comes along to Richard and Lelia's shotgun wedding later in the year and Richard finds out that he and MacDara share the same extra-marital love interest. A time perhaps to retreat into embarrassed silence, but Richard, soaring on wine and testosterone, can’t think straight:

A terrible writhing of conflicting emotions fermented in my brain with the wine. I burped, loudly, into the night... I opened my mouth; I took a gulp of wine.

He should have stuck with the bottle, but ends up hanging one on MacDara’s chin. Just as well he doesn't find out what his new wife has been up to as well until he's had a chance to calm down...

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