> Skip to content
Read an extract About the book
  • Published: 20 August 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786331380
  • Imprint: Hutchinson
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $38.00

The Second Sleep

the Sunday Times #1 bestselling novel

The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Munich, An Officer and A Spy and Fatherland

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

Fairfax becomes determined to discover the truth. Over the course of the next six days, everything he believes – about himself, his faith and the history of his world – will be tested to destruction.

  • Pub date: 20 August 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786331380
  • Imprint: Hutchinson
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $38.00

About the Author

Robert Harris

Robert Harris is the author of twelve bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave and most recently, Munich. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby.

Also by Robert Harris

See all

Praise for The Second Sleep

“A thoroughly absorbing, page-turning narrative in which the author, with his customary storytelling skills, pulls us ever deeper into the imaginative world he has created. It [also] poses challenging questions about the meaning of the past, the idea of progress and the stability of civilisation. It is a fine addition to Harris’s diverse body of work.”

Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

“A return to the type of high-concept novel that made his name . . . [T]he writing is elegant and pacy. The characters are fleshed out and the plot zips along.”

Antonia Senior, The Times

“A truly surprising future-history thriller. Fabulous, really.”

David Sexton, Evening Standard

“Harris is rightly praised as the master of the intelligent thriller. Genuinely thrilling, wonderfully conceived and entirely without preaching, it probes the nature of history, of collective memory and forgetting, and exposes the fragility of modern civilisation.”

Harry Sidebottom, Daily Telegraph, 5 stars *****

“Reading Robert Harris’s historical thrillers feels like attending a Simon Schama lecture on a roller-coaster – you come away with a new perspective on history while feeling dizzy with excitement . . . In The Second Sleep he takes us on a thrilling ride while serving up serious food for thought . . . I doubt there is a living writer who is better at simultaneously making readers’ adrenaline pump while their brains whirr.”

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express, 4 stars ****

“Harris's bleak imagined world issues a clarion call to the present, urging us to recognise the value of progress, the importance of woolly concepts like liberalism and the rule of law, and all the other ideals we’ve spent generations fighting for yet seem prepared to sacrifice on the altar of populism. For make no mistake, this novel [is] very much about the here and now . . . Harris is a master of plotting and, in elegant, understated third-person prose, he ratchets the tension ever upwards . . . this is nothing if not a page-turner.”

Alex Preston, Observer

“With a story of forbidden love joining larger themes, this vividly imagined, brilliantly clever novelis – as you’d expect from the author of Fatherland and Archangel – an absolutely class act.”

Deirdre O’Brien, Sunday Mirror

“It is a strange premise for a thriller, but Robert Harris is such a wily old hand that it is a pleasure to accompany him on his time travels.”

Mail on Sunday

“When Harris is at his best — and here he is — he writes with a skill and ingenuity that few other novelists can match. In this case, the usual page turning pleasures are joined by something else: a sense that, through his historical-futuristic setting, Harris has found a unique vantage point to comment on the present . . . This is a novel that not only makes you smile at its author’s brilliance, but induces a shiver of dread at how real it all seems.”

Financial Times

“Harris weaves a smart, intriguing story that cements his reputation as, in the words of the cover, 'master of the intelligent thriller'. He's that perfect combination of equally fine writer and storyteller; the narrative is satisfying and the prose is evocative. The world of The Second Sleep is plausible and richly imagined.”

Darragh McManus, Irish Independent

“A wholly convincing alternative world in which a few brave heretics are determined to uncover the truth. The result is a brilliantly imaginative thriller.”


“Harris . . . is a fearless writer. The Second Sleep races along at breakneck speed. The prose is pure, elegant, never tricky and his imagination knows no bounds. ”

Daily Express

“Harris takes you on a thrilling ride while serving up serious food for thought.”

Daily Mirror

“Harris has contrived to do something rather brilliant and new. He has put us at the heart of the mystery.”


“It’s a provocative, tub-thumping sci-fi of which H. G. Wells might have been proud.”

Daily Mail

“As he flexes the ample muscle of his imagination, you will be left pondering as often as you are page-turning.”

i paper

“It's hard not to credit Harris's writing, no matter when and where it is set, with some sort of sidelong prescience.”

Irish Times

Related titles