A woman gets up in the middle of a wintry night and starts baking a cake while her lover sleeps upstairs.
When it’s time for her to take the cake out of the oven, we have read a story of romance and death. The narrator of this novel was widowed years ago and is trying to find new passion. But the memory of her deceased husband and a shameful incident still holds her in its grasp. Why did he do it? Margriet de Moor, the grande dame of Dutch literature, tells a gripping love story about endings and demise, rage and jealousy, knowledge and ambiguity—and the possibility of new beginnings.
Very subtle, yet a captivating stunning novella on a widow’s reflection on her brief marriage and life, love, and human nature. I picked up this book intrigued by the synopsis, and this book didn’t disappoint. The story itself was not exactly what I was expecting, but it had me in thrall nonetheless.
The story begins with a woman slipping out of her bed and going downstairs to bake some cake in the middle of the night; sleep always escapes her and she has spent countless sleepless nights baking cake while pondering on her 14 months of marriage with her late husband who took his own life, trying to comes to terms with the loss and the reason why he committed suicide.
She is not alone in her house; her lover is peacefully asleep in her bed after love-making, yet she still has a deep hole in her heart which has never been filled since her husband’s death.
The writing is subtle, yet breathtakingly mellifluous and sensual, masterfully expressing the women’s meandering thoughts and reflections which constantly waffle back and forth. Her reflection, recollections and questions never come in a lineal way, and the subtlety and restraint in the writing added to my initial confusion. It took me a while to get used to the flow of the story, but despite all this, this book kept my attention the entire time while I was reading this book. I was confused, but captivated and mesmerized at the same time, wanting to better explore her thoughts and get to know who she is and where she goes from there.
Running throughout the book is a sense of grief, confusion, and “love” toward her late husband. The woman tries to start over and has slept with many men but to no avail – she’s still in her late husband’s clutch, not being able to move on. I take this book is a haunting, poignant love letter to the love of her life and her resignation to live the rest of her life in the way she does.
“Sleepless Night” is a book of meandering yet powerful exploration and character study involving love, life and human nature. I absolutely fell in love with the atmospheric, subtle, and restraint writing and this book won’t be my last from the author.
I received an e-book copy from Edelweiss but the opinions and thoughts are my own.