About the book

The Cure for Sleep Tanya Shadrick W&N

“A story about struggle, class, opportunity (taken and wasted), art, sex and desire. About how to live, once you’ve faced down death, and how to love. In laying out her life, Tanya has created a book with the capacity to change yours”

Jenny Landreth, author Swell: A Waterbiography

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.

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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.


About the audio book

“Tanya is a natural storyteller…the end result is just sublime”

Douglas Kean, audio book producer

“Such a moving experience: to read in my West Country accent a book I wrote to honour the rural women who raised me. Accents were such an emotional topic at the recent Class Festival: an audience member was in tears hearing voices ‘like hers’. It’s important to me that I can share my voice as well as my words: I wrote The Cure for Sleep to be heard as well as held”

Tanya Shadrick
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Tanya Shadrick recording the audio book of 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
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story-sharing community

Tanya’s monthly Substack newsletter offers readers of The Cure for Sleep an inspiring and supportive online story-sharing space.

Each issue takes a key moment from the book, inviting you to respond to that theme with a short true tale of your own – using the comments field to share a story of up to 300 words.

All contributions that respect the foundational spirit of the project – inclusivity, kindness, respect for the privacy and feelings of others – are then curated on thecureforsleep.com

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“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
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.’

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