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Customer Review

on 23 May 2012
CP Snow occupies a place in the front rank of popular authors and there is very much to enjoy in his Strangers and Brothers novel sequence, of which The Sleep of Reason is the penultimate entry. His prose is wonderfully elegant, if a little formal and with a faintly patrician air, modulated by the narrator`s sensibility as a self-proclaimed `man of the left`; his characters are believable; the storytelling is fluent and involving; and the plots are beautifully constructed. These qualities ensure his books are a satisfying pleasure to read and in all respects The Sleep of Reason, if rather darker than other of his writing, is entirely successful.

Here we are initially in the familiar CP Snow territory of domestic concerns and professional intrigues within the academic and political classes. The extra darkness comes in a literal sense from a medical condition threatening the narrator's sight and more figuratively through the peripheral involvement of an old friend in an appalling crime and the consequent disturbing trial, described at some length in the latter part of the book.

Published in 1968 though set some five years earlier, an incidental pleasure is the author's willingness to address the social and cultural shifts that had taken place in the period "between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP" and to attempt to reflect them in his plot and characterisation.

The whole Strangers and Brothers cycle is well worth your time, but each entry in the series stands alone and The Sleep of Reason is a superb novel which is, of itself, an immensely enjoyable and rewarding read.
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