Sea Wife [Book Review]

May 1, 2020
“May Day”

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige (cover) Image: a lagoon in the foreground and ocean expanse in the background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Sea Life, Adventure, Living Off the Grid, Suspense

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks, #netgalley #knophpublishinggroup for granting my request for a free eARC of #seawife by Amity Gaige. All opinions are my own.

Juliet and Michael are disillusioned with work, life, and marriage for individual reasons, and even though they are novice sailors, they set out for a yearlong sailing venture with their two young children. Things are fine at first until the unexpected happens.

My Thoughts:

Structure and Tone: Sea Wife is told in flashbacks, reflections, and journal entries from Michael’s and Juliet’s perspectives. We learn about their different political views, their strengths and weaknesses, and their disillusion with marriage, career, and life as they gain a clearer perspective of each other. The apprehension we feel on their behalf as inexperienced sailors permeates the reading experience.

Ambitious: There’s a lot going on in Sea Wife from sailing jargon and experiences (sailing enthusiasts will love it!) to politics (a bit heavy-handed at points) to living off the grid to complicated marriages to personal fulfillment to depression, grief, and childhood trauma. There’s also a great deal of tension and a tone of sadness, desperation, and grief throughout the story. It reminded me a bit in tone and structure of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. The single giant water drop (or teardrop?) on the cover of Sea Wife is a significant symbol of the tone and theme.

Title: I appreciate the title because Juliet is more than a wife and more than her husband’s plans for their life. At sea, she finds her voice, survives difficult circumstances, and plants seeds for envisioning a fulfilling future.

Themes: Thoughtful themes include compatibility in marriage and parenting, loss and grief, extreme adventure, life-changing events, depression, childhood traumas, finding your voice, and envisioning a different future.

I Wish: Even though Sea Wife is engaging and is unputdownable at times, I wish the transition between time periods and perspectives had been clearer. If you enjoy stream-of-consciousness writing, you will enjoy this aspect. I found myself feeling lost on several occasions and needed to reread to figure out which perspective I was reading and where we were in time. This affected my final star rating.

Recommendation: Readers who appreciate sailing (jargon and ocean setting), complicated stories of marriage and family, extreme adventure, living off the grid, and descriptive writing might love Sea Wife.

*contains spoilers*
Trigger Warnings/Content Considerations: the death of a spouse, depression, discussion of childhood sexual abuse, grief and loss, incompatibility in marriage.

My Rating: 3.5  Stars

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Sea Wife by Amity Gaige (cover) Image: a quiet lagoon

Sea Wife Information

Meet the Author, Amity Gaige

Author, Amity Gaige (headshot, hands folded under chin)

AMITY GAIGE is the author of four novels, O My Darling, The Folded World, Schroder, and Sea Wife (Knopf, April 2020).

The longtime Visiting Writer at Amherst College, she now teaches creative writing at Yale. Her short stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Die Welt, Harper’s Bazaar, The Yale Review,, One Story, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She has appeared at numerous conferences, festivals, and on radio shows such as NPR.

She currently lives with her family in West Hartford, Connecticut. She had to learn to sail in order to write Sea Wife. She learned that she is not a gifted sailor, so she will stick to writing about it.


Is Sea Wife on your TBR?

Happy May Day!

May 1, 2020

May Day basket of flowers

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
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~Denise J Hughes

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~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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