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In the City of Love’s Sleep

Lavinia Greenlaw

A novel about what it means to fall in love in middle age – a love that can be just as blinding and compelling as it was in adolescence.

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Iris, a museum conservator in her late forties, is separating from her husband while bringing up two daughters in a house that’s falling down. Raif is a stalled academic, as uncertain of the past as he is the future, whose girlfriend is about to move in. They meet by chance, nothing important is said, yet Iris turns away and starts to run. She is running from what this encounter has woken in her.

In the City of Love’s Sleep is a contemporary fable about what it means to fall in love in middle age. It charts the steps two people take towards one another and what it means to have taken those steps before.

Critic Reviews

An elegantly meandering tale in which the lovers repeatedly connect only to lose interest in each other, stuck in a kind of endless middleness.

Lara Feigel, Guardian
Critic Reviews

‘In the City of Love's Sleep confirms [Greenlaw] as a striking voice … As with Greenlaw’s poetry, it feels fast-paced – with short one-page chapters, and a brightness in the prose – but also demands that the reader slow down and pay each line due attention. It is a fantastic book, with moments that seem as precious as the ornaments Iris spends her days studying.’

Critic Reviews

‘A coolly elegant, psychologically acute and frequently unsettling meditation on love in middle age.’

Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
Critic Reviews

‘This is a beautiful, unforced novel about an old subject made new. Lavinia Greenlaw does not spell out what she is writing about until we are at the point where we could say it for her: love at first sight … The writing is present-tense choreography, as easy to read as gliding across parquet.’

Kate Kellaway, Observer
Critic Reviews

‘An ambitious work, both refined and unsettling … The most affecting passages in the book [...] are the ones relating to the breakdown of relationships; the misunderstandings, stallings and mis-steps involved in the death of love. This is Greenlaw’s great subject here, not new romance.’

Susie Boyt, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

‘An ambitious and thought-provoking experiment in the fugitive moments that make a life.’

Stevie Davis, Guardian

Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London where she has lived for most of her life. She studied seventeenth-century art at the Courtauld Institute, and was awarded a NESTA fellowship to pursue her interest in vision, travel and perception. Her poetry includes Minsk, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes. She has also published novels…

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