"The Sleepless Moon" opens with the marriage of Constance and Melford Turner, with Constance's dreamlike walk across the square of Orlingford: when the warm summer wind ripples her white silk dress against her skin, she feels 'astonishingly free and exalted'. Although she is shy and quiet, Constance is also sensual and sexual, but we discover on her wedding night that she is doomed to a passionless marriage, and the arrival of a young pianist, Frankie Johnson, drives their marriage even further apart. "The Sleepless Moon" is about the bleak and unforgiving nature of insomnia, of restlessness, repressed passion and dislocation. Orlingford is a town where it is hard to differentiate between pleasure and pain: the wonder of a moment is ignored, misconstrued or overridden by the fear of it passing. Pleasure is never more than fleeting and the characters are speechless in their supplication for help and understanding; repressed emotions manifest themselves in peculiar character traits and habit, and dreams are more vivid and warm than life.
H.E. Bates was born in 1905 at Rushden in Northamptonshire and was educated at Kettering Grammar School. He worked as a journalist and clerk on a local newspaper before publishing his first book after which he quickly acquired a reputation for his stories about English country life. During the World War II, he was a squadron leader in the R.A.F. and was commissioned to write stories about service life, which he published under the pseudonym of 'Flying Officer X'. In 1958 the Larkin family appeared for the first time in The Darling Buds of May, the first of the enduringly popular Larkin family novels. Bates was awarded the C.B.E. in 1973 and died in 1974.