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Our Wives Under the Sea: Book summary and reviews of Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Our Wives Under the Sea

A Novel

by Julia Armfield

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield X
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
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Book Summary

Fathomlessly inventive and original, Julia Armfield's Our Wives Under the Sea is a portrait of marriage as we've never seen it before.

Leah is changed. A marine biologist, she left for a routine expedition months earlier, only this time her submarine sank to the sea floor. When she finally surfaces and returns home, her wife Miri knows that something is wrong. Barely eating and lost in her thoughts, Leah rotates between rooms in their apartment, running the taps morning and night. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded, Leah has carried part of it with her, onto dry land and into their home. As Miri searches for answers, desperate to understand what happened below the water, she must face the possibility that the woman she loves is slipping from her grasp.

By turns elegiac and furious, wry and heartbreaking, Our Wives Under the Sea is an exploration of the unknowable depths within each of us, and the love that compels us nevertheless toward one another.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Armfield follows her collection, salt slow, with a moody and intimate debut novel, both a portrait of a marriage and a subtle horror fantasy...With echoes of Jules Verne, Thor Heyerdahl (whose work inspired Leah), H.P. Lovecraft, and the film Altered States, Armfield anchors the shudder-producing tale in authentic marine science and a deep understanding of human nature. This is mesmerizing." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"What happens to a marriage when one spouse is no longer the person you married? ... Launching her book with epigraphs from both Moby-Dick and Jaws, Armfield guides the reader through the liminal spaces in the couple's lives and approaches them with an occasionally ironic humor. The bleakest horror story can also be a love story; Armfield deftly illustrates how." - Kirkus (starred review)

"A turn toward horror at the end will satisfyingly rachet up the tension for some readers but may discomfit others. Told in stunning language, Armfield's heartrending story of two people forced apart by trauma is enough." - Library Journal

"Sublimely gorgeous…Readers are treated to a stunning love story about a couple trying to make sense of their new unfamiliar situation, while also learning about what happened to Leah on the ocean floor. It's pretty much perfect." - BookRiot

"Without a doubt, Our Wives Under the Sea is one of the best books I've ever read. It's not only art, it's a perfect miracle. We are lucky for it." - Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things

"A wonderful novel, deeply romantic and fabulously strange. I loved this book." - Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet

"I was entirely captivated by this book. A gorgeous debut." - Jami Attenberg, author of I Came All This Way to Meet You and The Middlesteins

This information about Our Wives Under the Sea was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield is the author of the story collection salt slow and the novel Our Wives Under the Sea. Her work has been published in Granta, Lighthouse, Analog Magazine, Neon Magazine, and Best British Short Stories. She is the winner of the White Review Short Story Prize and a Pushcart Prize, and she was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2019. She lives and works in London.

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