Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
published July 12th, 2022
Fathomlessly inventive and original, Julia Armfield’s Our Wives Under the Sea is a portrait of marriage as we’ve never seen it before.
“A wonderful novel, deeply romantic and fabulously strange. I loved this book.” —Sarah Waters
“Without a doubt, 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
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.
This is a wild, surreal book about a wife who loses everything under the sea. It’s a weird book that is …. extremely British. I read this on audiobook and I think this was the only thing that allowed me to keep the two different perspectives of each wife straight (they are narrated by different narrators). This book is like, fundamentally sad and melancholy and absolutely soaked. Like, there’s just water metaphors everywhere. I uhhhhh don’t really know how I feel about this book. Three and a half stars, rounded up for NetGalley/Goodreads. Like many Surreal Vibes books, I think it kind of falls apart in the latter half. Readalike for Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore? I feel like that’s the last Surreal Book I read. But that book is much more grounded in reality and this book is…. not. Booksweet link. Storygraph link.