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Summary

Named as book to look out for in 2022 by Guardian, i-D, Autostraddle, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, Stylist and DAZED.

Miri thinks she has got her wife back when Leah finally returns after a deep sea mission that ended in catastrophe. It soon becomes clear, though, that Leah may have come back wrong. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded on the ocean floor, Leah has carried part of it with her, onto dry land and into their home.

To have the woman she loves back should mean a return to normal life, but Miri can feel Leah slipping from her grasp. Memories of what they had before—the jokes they shared, the films they watched, all the small things that made Leah hers—only remind Miri of what she stands to lose. Living in the same space but suddenly separate, Miri comes to realise that the life that they had might be gone.

Our Wives Under the Sea is the debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of salt slow. It’s a story of falling in love, loss, grief and what life there is in the deep, deep sea.

©2022 Julia Armfield (P)2022 Macmillan Publishers International Limited

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Quietly shattering

Although this magical realism / horror is obviously not directly relatable the responses and lives of the couple are. One can imagine the ‘horror’ to have been mental illness, or a crime or accident and the responses seem very realistic to me - as is a sense of perhaps , frustration? Not total adoration of them but a more measured response?

I know I will listen to this again. It’s not horrific - or thrilling - I cannot remember which genre this was trying to be slotted into - there though it’s claustrophobic and sad . It is dark though, dark, slow and claustrophobic. And very good.

2 people found this helpful

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Evocative descriptions of the deep sea

Heart breaking, tender and funny at times. Ore inspiring descriptions of what it might be like to be in the deepest darkest bottom of the sea.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Left me wanting, just not more. Spoiler free

I hesitate to write reviews because I write too and I don’t want to upset the author but you have to be honest.

However I didn’t enjoy this book, and I have to be honest about that. For me it was a middle of the road situation.

It has some gorgeous quotable language but it reads almost like someone that’s trying to hard to insert descriptions of things just for the sake of a good quote, not to advance the story or particularly make you feel anything.

I finished this book with the thought of why did it end like that? But not in the omg I need a sequel kind of way, instead in the why did I go through all that only to still not understand what happened at the end.

I’m usually a fan of mysteries thrillers romance and fantasy. So this book caught my eye aswell as THE Florence and the machine recommending it. Like? Come on I couldn’t resist.

I guess me and her don’t share book taste.

I’d give this 1 stars but frankly I can recognise when a book might not be for me but instead is for other people who read this kind of book and want more.

So desperately I wanted to love this book. It felt like anytime there was promise to the story it wanted. Especially the end, I expected a different vibe there than I received.

The writer made both characters say they were similar at the start and she isn’t wrong they both sound so similar in voice that sometimes I forgot who’s part is was.

Overall I’m glad people enjoy it, I wish it was my cup of tea as they say but sadly it wasn’t. However I’d probably read another Julia Armfield book, should one arise more to my taste profile.

Now comes the spoiler filled part so look away:

Leah comes back from the sea and by the end of the book we still don’t know what went on. Did the monster she seen take them there and if so why and what was it and why did she turn into the sea in the end my god that was confusing? I thought Mari was going to drown Leah and that would be the ending because she belonged to the sea. That would have shocked and saddened me and made me feel something.

This book left me not wanting to continue about 7 chapters in. The words and descriptions are beautiful but the flesh of the story didn’t feel cared for enough. The characters weren’t different enough for it to be discernible.

The whole fake husbands lost in space was both a useless addition but also something that If used better could have provided more.

She talks about friends who’s names I can’t remember because she seemed to not flesh them out enough for me to care for them.

There’s a lot of repetition but not in the way I’d expect like repeatedly discussing the previous mission Leah had been on and the other lady who told her about a tv show and how Mari didn’t believe in the crafts safety.

Mari seemed to have a strange Dom thing going on with Leah in some descriptions and it kinda creeped me out not because I’m against that I think it’s hot it done right but it felt like the author was trying too hard to add spice and all she could think of was the Dom vibe which to me didn’t match either of their personalities.

Basically I wasn’t a fan but some people might just enjoy it for what it is,

A romantic eerie book with lots of ocean facts and descriptions that felt unnecessary to me

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Best book I've listened to in a while

Really enjoyable story with fantastic narration. Think I may have found a new favourite author.

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Gripping tension but slightly disappointing ending

The alternating narrative between the two lead characters works so well; Julia Armfield is an accomplished and gifted writer, building the tension and unease skilfully. I think I was hoping for an explanation at the end (or maybe a conspiracy) but it resolved itself anyway. I’ll definitely look out for more of Julia’s books.