“The House Of Sleep” by Jonathan Coe

Back Of Book Blurb: Like a surreal and highly caffeinated version of The Big Chill, Jonathan Coe’s new novel follows four students who knew each other in college in the eighties. Sarah is a narcoleptic who has dreams so vivid she mistakes them for real events. Robert has his life changed forever by the misunderstandings that arise from her condition. Terry spends his wakeful nights fueling his obsession with movies. And an increasingly unstable doctor, Gregory, sees sleep as a life-shortening disease which he must eradicate.

But after ten years of fretful slumber and dreams gone bad, the four reunite in their college town to confront their disorders. In a Gothic cliffside manor being used as a clinic for sleep disorders, they discover that neither love, nor lunacy, nor obsession ever rests.



I picked up this book because it mentioned, The Big Chill. I love that movie and I love stories akin to it. The House of Sleep  is one of those stories with its own twists and turns, saving it’s most major and “oh” moment until the end. Should I have seen it coming? No, because while things are eluded to on the back of the book and throughout the story, its something that I just didn’t see. Of course, I had already made up my mind about what was going to happen, so my judgment, as per usual with respect to endings of stories, was clouded. Damn it. I really thought I’d figured it all out as well.

Overall, it’s a well-written tale that only lagged at two points and not for more than five or six pages at a time.I enjoyed how Coe flips between the past and the present with every chapter, having the odds play out in the 80’s and the evens take care of the decade following the events of the characters’ college lives.

I’d read it. Maybe I’d read it again. Not for a while, because I’m an idiot who purchases books ahead of time planning on reading them in the near future. Unfortunately, I’m about 10 behind at this point and I’m most likely going to purchase more in the near future and thus, my second reading of The House of Sleep will be put off, and rightfully so, for a few years. Although, I would love to give it a close read with the ending in mind. Just so, you know, I can see if I could pick up on things.



About jtkwriting

Writer living in Toronto. "Sneak out of your window darling, let's live like outlaws honey." View all posts by jtkwriting

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