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The House of Sleep [Paperback]

Jonathan Coe
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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The House of Sleep The House of Sleep 4.4 out of 5 stars (54)
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Book Description

28 May 1998
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."

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140250832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140250831
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 614,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. His novels include The Rotters' Club, The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death and What a Carve Up!, which won the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. His latest novel is The Rain Before it Falls (Penguin, 2007).

The House of Sleep won the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Award for 1997.

Product Description


Moving, clever, pleasurable, smart ... one of the best books of the year (Malcolm Bradbury The Times)

There are bits that make you laugh out loud and others which make your heart ache (Guardian)

Fiercely clever, witty, wise, hopeful ... a compellingly beautiful tale of love and loss (Times Literary Supplement)

Remarkable ... a wonderful bedtime read (Sunday Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

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 children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Huge, grey and imposing... 4 July 2004
By jfp2006
"Huge, grey and imposing": the three adjectives appear two-thirds of the way down the opening page of Jonathan Coe's fifth novel, introducing the story's main setting, a house shared by a group of university students, in some indeterminate location on the English coast. Twenty-three pages later, those same words reappear, introducing an identical description of the same house, now the house of sleep of the title, a private clinic treating patients suffering from various sleep-disorders. The narrative has now moved forward some twelve years, the original student inhabitants have moved on - although most of them, in various guises, will be back... From there on the novel, in alternating chapters, moves backwards and forwards between undergraduate days in the eighties and "post-undergraduate" days - in many respects post-innocence days - in the mid-nineties.
There is equally something huge and imposing about the novel itself, which I have just reread in the space of an afternoon. Its atmosphere is from the start uncomfortably sinister; whereas other reviewers have tended to insist on the comic elements of the story, it should also be pointed out that the characters are, each in his or her own private way, both unhappy and unstable. And the novel's undoubted strength lies in the way it draws the reader inside these different versions of unhappiness and instability, forcing him or her to question the very nature of identity, and also to ask to what extent we can - or should - attempt to change it.
The novel is also grey - though not in any conventionally negative way. Dealing not only with the nature of dreams, the narrative also examines those awkward, Proustian grey areas between the conscious and unconscious minds.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget sleep - read this book all night! 3 May 2003
This is simply such an impressive book.
Coe writes about the one thing from which nobody can escape, and which nobody really talks about, and manages to put it at the centre of every character's life. All of his astonishingly vivid and separate characters - from the imaginative and solitary Terry to the disturbingly cold Dr Dudden - share sleep as something which changes their lives, and which eventually pushes them all back together, whether they like it or not.
The book contains everything you need to keep you hooked through every waking and sleeping moment - familiar characters (you'll see yourself in at least one of them!), an interesting plot and subject, a beatifully lucid writing style and the most intricately woven relationships since Wuthering Heights.
Each chapter inches the characters alternately further apart, and further together, as the book races effortlessly to the final lines.
Coe is marvellous, and his book is a dream to read.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 14 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This really is a perfect novel; Coe's magnum opus - a proper landmark in fiction that deserves to be read, debated, studied and held in wonder. And no - I am not an associate of the author, just a huge fan of this book. I have just finished reading it for the third time. If you are thinking about buying this book you should believe all of the reviews that mention its "unputdownability".
To reveal the details of the plot would be a crime against those who have not read this book, but suffice to say that the style is breathtakingly easy, even as it accelerates towards its disturbing and emotionally tense climax.
Coe is to be praised for his attention to detail and the web of symbolism that he creates. Even the smallest detail is revealed to have deep significances that reverberate throughout the text in a complex (but not complicated) network of cause-and-effect. The book deconstructs narratives, challenges the assumed relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind, so psychologists beware. As for everyone else, you will simply never think of sleep in the same way. As E.A. Poe said:
"Sleep... those little slices of death. How I loathe them."...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what can i say else apart from:wow!! 19 Sep 2001
By Sonia
"the house of sleep" is for me a perfect book thanks to a lot of positive elements hard to find in the same book : the intelligent style,the implacable plot, the fine sense of humour developped where we don't really expect it,the suspens...Jonathan Coe has done everything to make this story unbelievable,incredible and so close from reality at the same time!when you read this book,you want to read as fast as you can so that you'll know what happens at the end, BUT you are so disappointed when it ends because Coe managed to create an intimate relation with each character,in particular through the dreams they all have,through the lives they have and their evolutions,we don't want to leave them."the house of sleep" is one of the books that i can read several times without getting me, this story worth to be read AT LEAST once!you won't have the same vision of sleep,of dreams,of love...more than a bedtime story,"the house of sleep" is a real litterary work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Kicking myself that it took so long to pick up House of Sleep after enjoying <What a Carve Up> so much. On the face of it the plot is entirely implausible, but Coe's remarkable ability to draw you in to the story and to populate it with such wonderfully chaotic characters makes it very easy to suspend your scepticism.
For anyone who has ever struggled with foot-notes, this episode has to be one of the funniest in mobern British literature. I nearly fell out of bed laughing.
I'm annoyed with myself that I read it so quickly - but I couldn't help myself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended bedtime reading..
This was my first exposure to Jonathan Coe's writing and it certainly won't be my last. I can't agree with those reviewers who complained about a slow start; I was pulled along... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mark
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining and carefully crafted
A clever book with its myriad of cross threads coming together beautifully at the end. If too many coincidences in a book irritate you, then don't read this one. Read more
Published 8 months ago by GreenInk
2.0 out of 5 stars Dozy
I read this on a friend's recommendation. Not very good really. I persevered to the end,but I am not sure why people liked it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by H. Macrae
3.0 out of 5 stars Started well!
A good idea for a book, but didn't quite fulfill the early promise. It was a little too predictable as well.
Published 15 months ago by Dr K E A Morris
3.0 out of 5 stars House of Slumbers
After the thrill of reading What a Carve Up! (Coe's finest), I was hopeful of a novel of similar strengths. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Dillon the Villain
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
This book has everything - a perfectly crafted, fascinating story which has been cleverly developed and interwoven, complex characters, brilliant humour and originality. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Laura Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with It
Like another reviewer, I found the first 100 pages or so quite hard going. The characters, who initially I did not find terribly likeable, did of course need to be introduced; but... Read more
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by pantodame
5.0 out of 5 stars His Best Book
A wonderful story of student life, enduring love, transsexuality and sleep disorders. Coe's novel begins with a group of students at a seaside campus university (possibly Exeter;... Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2011 by Kate Hopkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
According to the other reviews on this book, I was in for a very good read and .... I ended up disappointed. Read more
Published on 18 July 2010 by BookAddict
2.0 out of 5 stars Tosh
What a disappointment. I was expecting something similar to One Day by David Nicholls and it was a complete letdown. Boring characters and stupid storyline.
Published on 11 July 2010 by gez
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