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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.

Raif is a stalled academic, as uncertain of the past as he is of the future, whose girlfriend is about to move in with him.

When Iris and Raif first meet by chance, Iris suddenly 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 story 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

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.

1843 Magazine, Economist
Critic Reviews

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

Daily Mail
Critic Reviews

An elegantly meandering tale . . . ambitious and thought-provoking.

Critic Reviews

A beautiful, unforced novel about an old subject made new . . . As easy to read as gliding across parquet.


Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London. She studied seventeenth-century art at the Courtauld Institute, and was the first artist in residence at the Science Museum. Her awards include a NESTA fellowship, the Ted Hughes Award for her immersive soundwork, Audio Obscura, and a Wellcome Engagement Fellowship. She has published six collections of poetry with Faber, including Minsk (2003), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot, Forward and…

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