The Cure For Sleep

“DID I SEE IT? What people want to know when they learn about my sudden near-death at thirty-three. Yes, I saw a light, I say. It changed me. But not in ways that were quick or comfortable.”

The Cure for Sleep: a late-waking life
About the book

Just days into motherhood, a woman begins dying. Fast and without warning.

On return from near-death – shaken awake by wild regret – Tanya Shadrick vows to stop sleepwalking through her life. To live with more courage, like the characters in the fairy tales she loved as a small girl, before loss and fear had her retreat into routine and daydreams.

Around the care of young children, she starts to play with the shape and scale of her days: to stray from the path, get lost in the woods, make bargains with strangers. As she moves beyond her respectable roles as worker, wife and mother in a small town, Tanya learns what it takes – and costs – to break the spell of longing for love, approval, safety, rescue.

The Cure for Sleep is a memoir with the quality of fable: inviting us, however late in life, to wake up and step out of the confines we have made for ourselves.

“In beautiful prose, Tanya Shadrick writes her own fairy tale of becoming. She is fearless in her depiction of female desire – I think many women will find themselves in these pages.”

Katherine May, author of Wintering

“Such a bold, brave, and beautiful story about birth, death, rebirth and building a larger life”

Charlie Gilmour, author of Featherhood

“I love this book. Tanya’s story is moving and inspiring. Her thoughts and writing are well considered, courageous and true: real art. Just reading her is pleasure”

Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun

“I finished this wonderful book with tears in my eyes. A book about daring to be, daring to head out, to encounter truths and to understand what place desire must have and must not have in a life. It is beautifully written, both careful and passionate, both slight and strong in its gestures like the best of art, and astonishingly, heartrendingly open. Intensity, beauty, subtlety, pain and courage – all are here.”

Adam Nicolson, author of The Making of Poetry

“A book of women and words; homes and honesty; light and longing. A life laid bare and given to us as reminder of what it means to choose to live. Shadrick weaves the raw beauty of the day to day with the magic of myth and fairy tale to offer us way through the darkest woods”

Kerri ní Dochartaigh, author of Thin Places

Stories Beyond The Book

As a former hospice lifestory scribe and ‘writer of the outside’, Tanya has written The Cure For Sleep in the hope that stories from her life will call forth tales from her readers – a fairy-tale idea of one story multiplying into a thousand and one, more. In the year leading up to publication, subscribers are receiving themed advance extracts and responding with words of their own…


From The Bookseller

“W&N pre-empts ‘breathtaking’ memoir from Shadrick”

The Bookseller (Dec 2019)

Lettice Franklin – who acquired the UK & Commonwealth rights in a pre-empt from agent Robert Caskie – said: ‘Tanya Shadrick’s prose intoxicated me from the moment I read it. Hers is an electrifying new voice and her book has the quality of a fable that teaches us how to live, how to step out of the confines we have made for ourselves, how to wake up. It reminds me of the very best memoirs – of Joan Didion’s autobiographical writing, of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood and of Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am. I cannot wait to publish it.’

Tanya Shadrick, author said: ‘The Cure for Sleep is an exploration of unlived lives – mine, others’ – and what it takes to break the spell of longing for love, approval, rescue, ease. I grew up in a rural working-class family and what mattered most was to avoid gossip, be respectable, stick to one’s own. It took my own sudden near-death to wake me up to risk, chance and connection.’

Robert Caskie, agent said: ‘Tanya has that very rare combination of stillness and energy.  Her stories captivated me instantly and her experimentation with style and genre impressed me greatly.  I am delighted to represent her and thrilled she has found such a perfect fit with Lettice and W&N. Now more than ever it is important to empower voice and enhance creativity.’

“Those breaths after coma were posthumous: the me of my first thirty-three years – that girl, that woman, who had worked so steadily to keep herself hidden, safe and small – was dead. My new self was stripped bare and spreadeagled. Flayed too of consoling ideas about how life might be kept neat and tidy.”

The Cure for Sleep: a late-waking life
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