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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

Sleepless
by Romy Hausmann
Blog Tour
Review

My thanks go out to Alexus, representing publisher Flatiron Books, for saving me a place on this lovely Blog Tour schedule.

I also need to thank the great NetGalley team, for always making life so easy when downloading review copies.

Cover image of the book 'Sleepless' by author Romy Hausmann

SLEEPLESS – (Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch)

Cover image of the book 'Sleepless' by author Romy HausmannDark secrets past and present collide in Sleepless.

A haunting novel of guilt and retribution from Romy Hausmann, the international bestselling author of Dear Child.

It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime.

After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends.

But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven–free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss–kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to refuse.

The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body.

But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer…

Cover image of the book 'Sleepless' by author Romy Hausmann

ROMY HAUSMANN

Image of author Romy HausmannRomy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981.

At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich.

Since the birth of her son, Romy has been working as a freelancer in TV.

Dear Child is her English translation thriller debut.

Romy lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

You can connect with Romy on Facebook

“I have no fear of failure. I like to test myself and see how far I get. If there are any limits to what I can do then I’m the one who sets them.”

Cover image of the book 'Sleepless' by author Romy Hausmann

FIRST LINES

“My Angel,

I’ve written you dozens of letters and, now more than ever, regret never having sent a single one of them. I ought to have done. Definitely. You’ve every right to find out what really happened back then. To find out from me, in my own words, words I always believed to be inadequate. I don’t know what you remember, or if hidden somewhere at the back of your mind there’s still a fragment of our last meeting. I promised to catch the evil man. I tempted you with the sea, and you must have thought you could rely on me. That everything would turn out fine and that I would be the one to make sure it did. 

All words are irrelevant now and I can only write this, perhaps my final letter, in my thoughts.

It’s over, my angel.

Today I’m going to die.

Just like her.

He’s won”

Cover image of the book 'Sleepless' by author Romy Hausmann

MEMORABLE LINES

“Paul replied that boredom had nothing to do with the place where you lived, but with the people around you”

.

“Lenggries leafed through the papers in a folder. Paul slid his hands beneath his thighs when he felt the urge to grab this woman by the collar of her smart, fitted blazer and drag her across the table to spell out the seriousness of the situation”

.

“It’s probably very difficult to love somebody if you hate yourself. Damaged people damage other people. Can you blame them?”

.

“But, the way I see it, fury is like an avalanche: once it gets going it’s unstoppable”

.

“Grief is a creature with sharp claws. It makes a cruel cut down my torso like in an autopsy. It pushes my ribs apart and reaches right into my open chest to squash my heart like an old sponge”

.

“Because ninety-five percent of all dead bodies eventually turn up again somewhere”

.

“Everything in life has its consequences”

.

“And even the promises I gave to my family are ultimately just words. Meaningless words if they’re not followed up by deeds. The right deeds”

.

“For “guilt” is just another synonym for “death” – a crueller, more agonizing death”

Cover image of the book 'Sleepless' by author Romy Hausmann

REVIEW

“The perfect victim … The perfect murderer”

Okay! I need to get this review out in the open and written, just as soon as I close the final page, lest events and images which are already jumbled in mind, become even more blurred with the passing of time!

“Sleepless” by name, “Sleepless” by nature, this gripping, slow-burning, psychological thriller, which is both plot and character driven in almost equal measure, chewed me up, messed with my mind, scrambled my brains, then spat me out! In fact I’m still not sure that I fully understood all the nuances of this intricate storyline and I’m annoyed with myself about that, as I really did concentrate hard and in solitude, as soon as I realised just how complex a read it was becoming.

Without giving away spoilers, it is quite difficult to encapsulate this heart-breaking storyline in just a few lines. However, as probably the principle protagonist, Nadja’s story is perhaps the most poignant and central to all other events. Beginning when she is still a young child, it is her home life which shapes her both physically and mentally and that is the domain of a mother, who whilst loving both Nadja and her younger brother Janek, as much and as deeply as she is able, has limited resources with which to survive. The life she adopts for herself affects her children, particularly Nadja, badly and irrevocably. The things she sees and hears, the actions her mother takes to make the children compliant and uncomplaining, are the cause of problems which shape a lifetime sentence for them both, and which can never completely disappear or be repaired.

Whilst the chapters are thankfully kept relatively short and punchy, their signposting is at times, rather confusing and a little disjointed. I was thrust from one timeline into another, transported back and forth between two different storylines and listened to several viewpoints along the way, all interspersed with a series of unsent letters which only really have relevance towards the end of the book, but which act as an ongoing and fluid, documented chain of thoughts, written by someone with a troubled and damaged mind. How author, Romy Hausmann, manged to pull all these tenuous threads and strands together, into a cohesive, tour-de-force finale, is a mind-boggling tribute to her imagination and tenacity.

This cleverly structured and well constructed storyline, is multi-layered, intensely textured, breath-takingly claustrophobic and rich in atmosphere. Romy deals confidently, yet perceptively and compassionately with Nadja’s mental health issues, as on multiple occasions they threaten to overwhelm her. However she also, with compelling penetration of insight and some gritty, head-on bravery, tackles with humanity, the issues which arise when that fragility of a badly damaged mind is threatened by unscrupulous individuals, who seek to turn Nadja’s vulnerabilities to their own advantage. The twists in the storyline are many and complex, the secret of the endgame is dangled tantalisingly close, only to be snatched away by another even more nightmarish event. With complete authority and confidence in the immersive imagery her words can evoke, Romy left me holding my breath in anticipation that this living nightmare would soon be over, although knowing that I would  have to read until that very last page, to either discover any sign of closure for Nadja, or to bring together those two convergent storylines to a redemptive conclusion.

Romy has created a deliberately diverse cast of multi-faceted, high tension, disturbingly manipulative and  high maintenance characters, who all demand that their individual voices are heard loudly and clearly during the telling of their story. The end result is often a maelstrom of ‘noise’, which becomes incessant and annoying, as you attempt to filter truth from lies, guilty from innocent and friend from foe, making them all potentially not investable, unengaging  and untrustworthy witnesses. Emotionally starved, complex and demanding, selfish and single-minded, none of them are particularly genuine or believable. Gero, whose machinations have been the most remorseless and calculating and who has so much to lose materialistically, is surprisingly, the one who seeks possible redemption and atonement for his wrongdoings. However it is Nadja herself who has everything to lose, including life itself, if she is pushed beyond her limits of endurance.

Although the finished product was not quite as seamless as I might have liked, I have nonetheless awarded the full 5 stars for the quality and depth of the writing, alongside a chill and fear factor packed storyline. I have often remarked that what makes reading such a pleasure for me, is the unique and individual journey each book takes me on. This is definitely one you should read for yourself, to discover where your journey takes you!

Image of author Romy Hausmann

A complimentary download of this book for review purposes, was made available by the author, the publisher and courtesy of NetGalley

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

,..

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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10 comments
  • ‘boredom had nothing to do with the place where you lived, but with the people around you’…this is so true! Sleepless definitely sounds like a very intriguing story. Thanks, Yvonne, for another great review! Have a most wonderful week ahead!

    • I like your choice of memorable lines, although I have to say, there were plenty to choose from in this book.

      The writing was excellent, but I really needed to concentrate hard on the storyline, which switched between narrators and timeline quite often!

      Have a great Monday and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • I did enjoy the first novel by this author, but a couple of things you said make me a bit hesitant to rush out and add this one to the TBR. Also, the following line from the blurb makes me take pause: “But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven–free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss–kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to refuse.” I can’t imagine getting involved in something like that!!

    I’m glad you enjoyed it and will certainly not rule it out entirely.

    • The jury is well and truly divided on this book!

      Some who read ‘Dear Child’ really got into ‘Sleepless’, whilst others thought that ‘Sleepless’ was just a bit too disjointed and dark.

      I think that in general I tend to class the style of writing by German authors, in a similar way to that of Nordic and Scandi writers – deep, dark and often lugubrious.

      I have to say, that so long as I was completely zoned in with no interruptions, I really became immersed in this storyline and personally enjoyed it every bit as much as ‘Dear Child’. The translation was every bit as impeccable and certainly brought no influence to bear in the comparison.

      Thanks for taking the time to chat, it is always good to hear from you! 🙂

  • My attention caught by that amazing cover, I was then further drawn in by a synopsis that appealed to me on some many levels, then, oh my goodness, your Memorable Moments. My only ever so slight reservation being that it was translated which in my experience isn’t always done that well/may not convey that well but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I’m so pleased that your well constructed review is such a positive one … I’d have been so disappointed if given the cover, the synopsis etc, your thoughts on this had been negative. Definitely one for the Wish List, thanks Yvonne.

    • I don’t know if you ever caught my review of Romy’s first book ‘Dear Child’, but that one is also definitely worth reading..

      https://www.fiction-books.biz/reviews/dear-childby-romy-hausmannreview/

      Both books were translated by Jamie Bulloch and they are totally faultless, you would never know they hadn’t been written in English to begin with. In fact, they are better than a couple of books I have been commissioned to read lately, which were supposedly written in English as the first language!!

      There were just too many memorable extracts to feature them all, but with both books, you really do need some quality ‘alone’ time to concentrate on all the little twists and turns in the storyline, it’s definitely all in the detail!

      Thanks for your support and kind words, I always look forward to your visits 🙂

    • Thank you for stopping by, it is great to ‘meet’ you, and I appreciate your kind words 🙂

      Romy’s books are always chilling and keep me on my toes, as I need to read them so carefully so as not to miss any of the vital twists in the storyline which can change the final outcome.

      The letters of the ‘First Lines’ are a recurring theme throughout the book and it is not right until the very end that their significance becomes clear!

      Have a lovely day and Happy Reading! 🙂

  • As Angie, I loved the quote on boredom. I enjoyed her first book, Dear Child, a lot, so I might look for this one too. The thing that keeps me from searching it right now is that I am not sure on the dual timeline, which is something I usually avoid.
    Have a lovely weekend. xx

    • I would like to say that if you enjoyed ‘Dear Child’, then you will also like ‘Sleepless’ and purely from the excellent and gripping, depth and range of the writing and storytelling, I’m sure you would.

      However the unsent letters, which take the reader back in time, do keep popping up from time to time, before they are knitted into the fabric of the storyline and all becomes clear.

      That might be a little annoying for you and it certainly does take some concentration to keep the separate story strands on track. Perhaps if you could borrow it from a library, it wouldn’t be too drastic if you decided it wasn’t for you after all?

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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