The sleep of Birds, by Sara MacDonald, is a novel which deals with many issues such as spousal abuse, obsession, and love. The book is mainly about Sigrid and her husband, Jake. Desperately trying to get away from Jakes violence, Sigrid retreats to a place where she is staying with friends. Here, where she is safe, she starts a new life and begins to find love and happiness. Then, Jake erupts back into her life making Sigrid face her past and also her strong and confusing feelings for him.
The story first takes place in a remote cottage on the moors of Scotland, where Sigrid is kept like a prisoner, isolated and alone. After trying to escape from Jake, he violently assaults her, and she is admitted to the hospital. After of being there many times, the police become involved under suspicion, and Sigrid admits to the years of abuse. She is then separated from Jake under a restraining order and goes to live with her friend Beth in St Ives. .
While in St. Ives, Sigrid begins to heal physically and emotionally with the help of Beth, her husband John, and their twins. Still suffering from nightmares, Sigrid becomes braver and more in touch with herself while spending time in the Talland House. This is the house where historical figure Virginia Woolf grew up. Beth owns the house and people from all over the world come to visit it. Through out the book, Sigrid imagines seeing Virginia's ghost and it seems to give her strength and reassurance.
One day, out of the ordinary, Jake sends Sigrid a card telling her he has decided to leave the country and to take care of herself because he is going to be out of her life for good. Relieved and also a little bit shocked, Sigrid tells Beth and John about the news. With the thought of Jake out of her life, Sigrid optimistically feels as if she will finally be able to move on.
On a family outing one night, Sigrid is introduced to a guy named Matt. John has known Matt for a while and they are good friends.