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Sleeping with the Enemy Paperback – April 1, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This powerful, moving and well-controlled thriller follows the metamorphosis of Sara Burney, an abused, submissive and battered wife whose daily goal has been to keep her brutish husband Martin from still more violent assaults. Presumed dead when she is swept overboard from a sailboat in Manhasset Bay, Sara seizes the opportunity to escape from her husband and begin a new life. She rides the bus from Boston to the small university town of Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she finds a job as caretaker to Dr. Hazel Channing, a professor who is recovering from an accident that has left her both mute and paralyzed. Sara (now known as Laura Pray) gradually edges into independence. She reads Henry James to Dr. Channing and awakes her to sprightly dialogue. She finds the strength and the wisdom to counsel another woman in crisis. And she begins a tentative but promising relationship with her next-door neighbor, a perceptive professor. But her desire to visit her mother in a nursing home enables her murderously psychotic husband to trace her. Reveries, dreams and images of drowning form an effective counterpoint to chilling scenes of observation and pursuit, and the author of An Accomplished Woman brings the novel to a triumphant conclusion. Major ad/promo; film rights to Leonard Goldberg Productions.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Picking up on society's increasing concern with battered wives, Price's work is a disjointed account of Sara Burney's long-postponed attempt to escape her abusive husband. Motivation and empathy are sadly lacking and questions abound: Why did she remain in a childless marriage to be abused for over three years? What drove Martin Burney to his destructive behavior? Is Sara's relationship with new neighbor Ben Woodward realistic given her circumstances? Price has unfortunately reinforced the stereotype of librarians as weak-willed, desperately sex-starved women. Secondary characters serve little or no purpose. On the whole unsatisfactory. Judith A. Gifford, Salve Regina Coll. Lib., Newport, R.I.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow/Children S (a Division of Random House; New Ed edition (April 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099949105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099949107
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By "ghiddyz2" on April 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was surprised when I found out that the movie was based on a novel by the same name. I was even more surprised when I found the novel at my local library a while back. But what took my breath away was that the book was in fact ten times better and a bit different than the movie.
You probably know the plot and characters by now, so I won't go into that. What I will say is that the writing is some of the best prose I've read in a thriller novel of this kind, and the bad guy (the husband) is one of the most realistic and most interesting villains in modern fiction. The main character, Sara, has life breathed into her through Ms. Price's writing that the movie never had a hope of matching, and I found myself caring for her and those around her greatly, while at the same time anticipating when her husband would find her.
If you've seen the movie, you owe it to yourself to read this book. If you liked the movie, read the book to get an entirely different and much better form of the main plot. If you hated the movie, read the book so you can see how the movie 'should' have been.
Great work, Ms. Price, I'll have to be looking for more novels by her. This book gets a high recommendation from me. Pick it up!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Egger, author of Grave Accusations on January 21, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a treat after seeing the movie. A bit different than the movie, but in many ways better because the reader gets to see into the minds and thoughts of Laura/Sara and Martin, as well as Ben. The movie couldn't help but use some of the parts of the book in exact form, such as the breaking of the lights so Sara finds her way home after jumping off the boat. So many women in similar situations will find inspiration in Sara's courage -- and realism in the book, as she almost turns back a few times and almost calls Martin, despite finding him a monster.
Sara has obviously been beaten many times and frightened of her husband, stays far longer than she should. But the soul-wrenching part is, she DOES get away, and she's able to live again. Highly recommended for all readers of thrillers and especially people interested in domestic violence.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Renter on March 21, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book so much I have twice tracked down used copies of it after losing a copy. If I lose this copy, I'll be looking to replace it again. It has a permanent place on my bookshelf. I reread it about once a year. This is not a novelization, for anyone who might be wondering. This is an original novel that inspired the screenplay that most people are more familiar with.

It's hard to explain the appeal of this book, since the subject is so difficult to read about, but I'll try. I think it has to do with the supportive female relationships depicted in the book. If you've seen the movie, you already know the action that sets the plot in motion, but you've only seen a little of the web of relationships the heroine develops in the book.

The plot is exciting, and again, anyone who has seen the movie that was based on this book (or a half a dozen movie knock-offs) is already familiar with it: a woman is so determined to break free of her abusive, controlling husband that she fakes her own death in order to escape. And again, the falling action begins after the husband discovers that she might really be alive.

It's what happens in between that makes this book a keeper for me. If you've seen the movie, you've seen that the heroine develops a cautious but sweet relationship with Ben, her drama teacher neighbor in her new town. That happens in the book, too. You've also seen that the heroine has a beautiful relationship with her mother. That is also in the book, but there is so much more. Remember the African violets Julia Roberts lovingly sets on a windowsill during the housecleaning montage? Those have a great deal of significance in the book, and they are directly related to the heroine's relationship with her mother.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "iancestors" on April 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Sleeping With the Enemy Nancy Price is a spell-binding writer who dodges every Hollywood cliché to write a real "suspenser." In the movie Julie Roberts has only one man to run from-but the Sara Burney of the novel has three. Her husband, a controlling martinet, is the first man she must escape, but two other dangerous men wait where Sara tries to hide. They, too, want to make use of her. The boy next door wants sex. The professor next door, like her husband, distrusts women: he wants a servant so he can write his books.
But Sara is smart, courageous and lucky. She helps two other women, senses her danger, escapes and covers her tracks. The police won't find a dead man in her front hall. Her happy ending is a true one: she's going back to the house she loves and had to abandon. She dreams of every detail of that house as the book closes (while the professor dreams of a useful wife to the very last word). Sara will have a home for her mother and herself, a home that is safe at last, and her own.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on April 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There's more than a few negative reviews of this book on Amazon and I think this is because people approach the book expecting to read a printed and bound version of the movie. The movie was a rather hollow suspense thriller with little characterization, ridiculous coincidences, and a crowd-pleasing ending. The book is a little more nuanced and complex.

The action doesn't unfold at a whiplash pace, which I think is a problem for people. The story moves slowly and deliberately, observing Sara's life and the life of the people around her. It's practically a rabbit hole of tangential characters related to minor characters related to supporting characters - from Sara's old swimming buddy's lesbian girlfriend's sarcastic younger brother to a coworker's unborn baby and other members of her white trash family. Nancy Price really creates her own populated little world.

The characters are more believable, too, particularly Martin the husband. In the film he's a two-dimensional psychotic abuser (and it's never explained what attracted Sara to him in the first place) and in the book we get glimpses of his own violent domestic background during his parents' visit, a sense that he's not as wealthy as he'd like to be (the Burney's summer home is a dump) and a feeling of regret and an acknowledgement that he can't stop himself no matter how hard he tries. The character isn't just out for revenge. He honestly wants Sara back and once he realizes he can't have her, well...the book ends a lot differently than the movie.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this book is a literary thriller NOT a romantic thriller (as it's been marketed). A breakthrough comes to one character after another dismisses Henry James (while reading "The Golden Bowl.
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