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Our Wives Under the Sea

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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 is not the same. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded on the ocean floor, Leah has brought part of it back with her, onto dry land and into their home.

Moving through something that only resembles normal life, Miri comes to realize that the life that they had before might be gone. Though Leah is still there, Miri can feel the woman she loves slipping from her grasp.

Our Wives Under The Sea is the debut novel from Julia Armfield, 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.

240 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2022

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About the author

Julia Armfield

8 books921 followers
Julia Armfield was born in London in 1990. She is a fiction writer and occasional playwright with a Masters in Victorian Art and Literature from Royal Holloway University. She was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2019. She was commended in the Moth Short Story Prize 2017, longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Award 2018, and won the White Review short story prize 2018. Her first book, salt slow, is a collection of short stories about bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of its characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession and love. She won the Pushcart Prize in 2020. Julia Armfield lives and works in London.

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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
961 reviews6,799 followers
August 2, 2023
To know the ocean, I have always felt, is to recognize the teeth it keeps half-hidden.

When Florence Welch recommends a book, I have to read it. This is just how things work. And this is how I spent my vacation travel time with a slow-burn, haunting and heartbreaking work that examines loss within the framework of horror, something most would probably not recommend as relaxation reading but for me it was infectiously perfect. Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield is a quiet earthquake, slowly rearranging your emotions through ever-growing tension and terror while simultaneously being incredibly tender. On the surface this is a horror novel, rocking on the waves of perspectives between married couple Miri and Leah as they tell of Leah’s traumatic submarine accident that has left her slowly transforming from the person she once was in a series of ghastly and chilling scenes. Most of the novel, however, recounts their relationship in contrast with the nearly-absent Leah of the present and the now-caregiver Miri who is at her wits end. ‘The thing about losing someone isn’t the loss but the absence of afterward,’ Leah is told, and Armfield dives beneath the waves of loss to explore the void of absence and, at its heart, this novel is a moving meditation on grief and what it means to love a person. Armfield manages to make Our Wives Under the Sea a novel in which you will find yourself both shivering and sobbing as it slowly pulls you under into its shadowy depths.

**For added review reading benefit, this Florence + the Machine song is a perfect pairing**

The deep sea is a haunted house, a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness.

While I found this novel to be incredibly provocative and enjoyable, I suspect it will appeal mostly to a niche audience. It is less a horror novel and more an emotional interrogation set in a horror setting, blended to taste with a preference for the flavors of grief. Luckily, this is the sort of genre-experimentation I truly crave and for me the lack of much actually happening only seemed to heighten the tension of what was going on underneath. Armfield executes it all in gorgeous prose that is as unnerving as it is often rather romantic.

Every couple, I think, enjoys its own mythology,’ Miri reflects, ‘recollections like note cards to guide you around an exhibition.’ The novel is set upon Leah’s return after half a year’s absence stuck in a sunken submarine and much of the time is spent looking back on the Leah of the past now that present self seems a disintegrating shell devoid of the Leah she once knew. We are treated to reminicents of their story together, the sort of memories that become bathed in the light of golden era nostalgia and tell the narrative of a couple. It’s this museum of memories that makes the absence much more pronounced after a break-up or death, for instance. However, Armfield asks us if ‘we cry for ourselves without the person we have lost far more than we cry for the person,’ sort of like how in an on-again-off-again relationship the memories tease us back into thinking it can work before the reality of a person beyond the cherry-picked memories reminds us why it didn’t in the first place. The book seems like scattered vignettes, but that is precisely the effect Armfield hopes to convey:
It’s easier, I think, to consider the fact of us in its many disparate pieces, as opposed to one vast and intractable thing. Easier, I think, to claw through the scatter of us in the hopes of retrieving something, of pulling some singular thing from the debris and holding it up to the light.
So, in pieces, then: a long time ago, we met.

It is a really beautiful endeavor, seen in this light, with the novel being a prolonged terror plunging towards loss backlit by a montague of endearing memories. In effect it also examines how difficult it is to truly convey the impression of a romantic interest to someone not seeing them through your eyes:
I want to explain her in a way that would make you love her, but the problem with this is that loving is something we all do alone and through different sets of eyes. It’s nearly impossible, at least in my experience, to listen to someone telling a story about a partner and not wish they’d get to the point a little faster…It’s easy to understand why someone might love a person but far more difficult to push yourself down into that understanding, to pull it up to your chin like bedclothes and feel it settling around you as something true.

It’s passages like this that really drove this book deep into my heart and made me care for these characters. As well as adorable passages of their early love and learning each other. ‘When I returned to this story later, I would superimpose an eighteen-year-old me over the top of the girlfriend, scribbling her out and sketching my lines in more permanent ink,’ Miri confesses in a cute section about Leah’s teenage past working in an aquarium.

Amidst all the horrors and Leah’s slow-burn retelling of what occurred beneath the ocean—brief passages that descend into a fever pitch of confusion and trauma—Armfield delivers a really moving portrait of relationships in general, being sincere, humorous, and often critical. I gasped at the mention of how Miri was relieved that a married couple they become couple-friends with was able to be funny without relying on their jokes being insults of their partner, which is a very spot on observation. Armfield also depicts a loving queer relationship that addresses the realistic aspects of being a woman in a patriarchal world, though the focus is on their love and coming together and not facing homophobia, which is nice to be able to read about the couple thriving instead of battling against society. The horrors here are something else, something lurking in the deep.

The loss of Leah, even when she is still here, is juxtaposed with Miri’s loss of her mother to a degenerative disease, showing the two situations as similar but more for the effect of highlighting their individualities. There is a motif of degeneration in this novel, such as Miri’s friend having her eyesight declining, and we are reminded that for as much love as our bodies can contain, they cannot forever remain. Loss is inevitable, and therefore coping is necessary. ‘My heart is a thin thing, these days,’ Miri tells us, ‘shred of paper blown between the spaces in my ribs.’ The grief is disintegrating her as well, like an infectious symptom.

A stand-out portion of the novel involves Miri, during her months of not knowing where Leah is, discovering an online group that playacts as a support group for people with husbands that have vanished into space on long voyages. Armfield even creates an in-group set of terms and abbreviations (MTM: mission to mars, for example) that show the lengths people will go to examine the feeling of loss and lack, even when the lack is invented. It reminds us that this is a universal feeling, but one we often keep out of the public eye or even hide from our friends as if it is shameful. The healing, it seems, comes when we share grief together.

One thing that really struck me is how well researched this book is. The ocean facts prop the book up nicely and there is such care to keep the language centered on the idea of diving beneath the waves. Even the characters depressive thoughts are referred to as ‘sunken thoughts.’ The ocean is a scary place in Armfield’s hands, a place she reminds us we know less about than the surface of the moon. The novel is even separated into sections titled after depths of the ocean. In an interview with Them magazine, Armfield discusses why the ocean is such a perfect setting for this queer romance/horror, being ‘as a symbol of something forbidden,’ that functions as ‘a very natural setting for coming-out narratives.’ The ocean itself comes alive like a character here, full of dread and mystery.
I think it also has something to do with the fact that the sea can be many things at once. It can be very calm on the surface, and something can be going on underneath. That speaks to the way that we as queer people have to be so many different things to so many different people: to our parents, at work, to society, to our partners, et cetera. It’s a really useful tool in queer storytelling, which is why people return to it.

Armfield has taken great care for this to come across in the novel, and I certainly will never look at a body of water the same. It is both the metaphor and the monster here.

Miri said this to me once: Every horror movie ends the way you know it will.’ Without spoiling anything, this novel heads on a trajectory and satisfyingly stays its course. The book feels like a combination of Annihilation and a more-successful version of the final episode to The Haunting of Bly Manor, being more interested in the horrors of it’s themes than needing to satisfy a purely plot-driven conclusion. I would argue it does both, but I prefer quiet novels like this. There is so much intrigue going on in small doses that really keep you flipping pages, from the bizarre effects on Leah’s body, the mysterious Center she works for, and by leaving everything fairly vague and mysterious throughout the novel, Armfield allows the horror to seep into our thoughts and make us question our own interpretations. Scary, sweet and sinister, Our Wives Under the Sea is a brilliant examination of loss and a story that will haunt me for a long time. Come for the creepy, stay for the crying.

When I was younger, I think some glib or cavalier part of me always believed that there was no such thing as heartache - that it was simply a case of things getting in past the ribcage and finding there was no way out. I know now, of course, that this was a stupid thing to think, in so far as most things we believe will turn out to be ridiculous in the end.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
January 2, 2023
I loved reading this book. I read this during my commutes and was absolutely absorbed from the beginning, which is a rare but great experience. This will have a niche audience for sure - it’s very slow and filled with long paragraphs, so it’s not for everyone, but it really hit for me and I was immersed the whole time. The writing is beautiful and flows so naturally. Sometimes you can tell when an author is trying their hardest to be as descriptive as possible; this book just feels so innate and organic with its imagery and interiority. The themes of grief and sapphic love were so tender and melancholic that it hit me in a very special way. There’s a touch of horror that I found compelling as well. It’s incredibly researched, tying oceanography into more emotional themes. Overall, a stunning and unique book that will definitely be in my top favorites this year.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews63.8k followers
July 13, 2022
This was a beautiful, exquisitely slow and odd little story. I'm excited for this to find its niche audience, but weary of it inevitably becoming referred to as "overhyped" once it does.
Profile Image for luce (that loser crying on the n° 2 bus).
1,436 reviews4,036 followers
December 3, 2021
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2 ½ damp stars (rounded up because i really really really wanted to love this)

“The deep sea is a haunted house: a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness.”

The cover, title, premise, and early hype around this novel made me think that I was going to love it. Alas, as it often seems to be the case, Our Wives Under The Sea did not work for me. If you are interested in this novel I recommend that you check out more positive reviews.
At first, I gave this novel the benefit of the doubt, but with each chapter, my expectations sunk (ah-ah) lower and lower. This is one of those novels that prioritises language over say characters or story, which is something that I’m sure will work for many types of readers, it just so happens that I am not one of them. Through alternating chapters, Our Wives Under The Sea follows wives Miri and Leah. Their marriage and relationship are very much in limbo after Leah returns from a deep-sea mission gone awry. The experience has clearly altered Leah and Miri struggles to reconcile herself to the fact that the woman she married is no more. In Miri’s chapter, we read of Leah’s strange behaviours: she takes long baths, avoids leaving the house, has frequent nose-bleeds, and seems wholly disassociated from her surroundings. Miri’s chapters also give us some insight into their relationship prior to this disastrous mission (how they met, how they were as a couple, etc.). In Leah’s chapters, which are far shorter, and are meant to highlight her alienated state of mind, we mostly learn about what went on in that mission.

“Every couple, I think, enjoys its own mythology, recollections like notecards to guide you round an exhibition.”

In spite of the intimacy achieved by focusing solely on Miri and Leah (secondary characters are very much at the margins of the narrative), I found the novel’s overall tone cold. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I like plenty of authors who write in this slightly ‘distancing’ way (Jhumpa Lahiri and Brandon Taylor come to mind). However, I have to care or be interested in the people they write about. Here, surprisingly enough, I found myself feeling nothing for either Miri or Leah. Their voices were too similar, something that I found rather frustrating. Their inner-monologues and their observations (about others, the past, themselves) were eerily alike. Which made it difficult for me to see them as individuals, but rather they merged into this one water-obsessed figure. And speaking of water, gesù. We have water metaphors and imagery, water-related speculations, and conversations on water/sea/ocean/sea creatures. I understand that the water & the sea are central themes of this novel (if not the theme) however it got repetitive and, worse still, contrived. The author’s language was impressionistic, trying too hard to be direct and gritty ("red mouth in the morning, red chin, red spill into the sink" / "Miri bit at her skin of her lip so often that kissing tasted bloody; metallic zip of a licked battery"). Her prose was too dramatic, full of flashy metaphors ("beneath her shirt, the bones of her shoulder swing the way a hanger will when knocked inside a wardrobe"). There were paragraphs or reflections that I liked or that struck me as insightful and sharp but I wish that I’d felt more attached or emotionally invested in the story. I had a hard time ‘believing’ in our two main characters, perhaps due to a combination of their voices sounding too much alike and they were both so...water obsessed? Their personalities were vague and the author seemed more intent on evoking a certain atmosphere than on providing us with fully dimensional and nuanced characters.
All in all, this novel was a big disappointment. I went in thinking that I would love it, realised a few pages in that the writing was going for this simultaneously dreamlike and raw sort of vibe (which did nothing for me here) and found myself bored by most of the narrative. It didn't elicit any particular feelings or reactions in me. This is the kind of novel that screams MFA. It wants to be stylish and edgy but (and here i remind you that i am merely expressing my own entirely subjective opinion so please don't @ me) but feels contrived and unconvincing. A lot of the dialogues didn't ring true to life, characters' reactions were slightly off, and the narrators' voices were much to similar (that occasionally they address the reader or say things like 'you see' made it all more gimmicky).
July 25, 2022
Rounded down from roughly 3.5 stars ⭐️

Our Wives Under the Sea swaps between the point of view of Miri and her wife Leah. Leah has just returned from a submarine work trip that did not go as expected. But the Leah who returns is a stark contrast to the one who left.

I’m not 100% sure what I’ve just read, which makes this book quite difficult to review. I absolutely loved the unique take and can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. It had a horror element and atmosphere that I lapped up. But, I was never fully sure what was going on. Maybe it is just as the story describes it, maybe it’s meant to be confusing and suspended from reality. Or maybe I have missed something. Either way, I love reading something different and I know this haunting storyline will stay with me for a long time.

One of my biggest issues, aside from the general confusion, was that I didn’t connect to either Miri or Leah. This always dampens my enjoyment of a book but especially when books are set from multiple POV’s. That being said, this book kept me turning the pages and although I was confused and unattached, I didn’t want to put it down! The tension created by the submarine trip really sucked me in. I particularly loved Leah’s chapters because they had a dark and creepy atmosphere. I could really picture myself trapped in the submarine. Overall, I cannot wait to see what this author does next as this was a promising debut novel.

I recommend this for fans of horror but please be prepared for quite an unusual read! I want to thank Netgalley, Pan Macmillan (Picador) and Julia Armfield for allowing me to read this book and give my personal thoughts.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
May 29, 2023
“It’s hard when you look up and realise that everyone’s moved off and left you in that place by yourself. Like they’ve all gone on and you’re there still, holding on to this person you’re supposed to let go of.”

this is a heartbreakingly beautifully written book that the reader can interpret in many different ways. But this ultimately is a story about how grief can impact us, change us, shape us.

this will not be a book for everyone, and even though there are so many eerie scenes, the sadness and loneliness and helplessness i felt while reading was the scariest horror elements for me. i cried for the entire end of this, and for sure at least half of my tears were because i was purely heavy sad, but i also think it’s because this story is so expertly crafted that half of my tears were the light feeling of feeling seen and felt cathartic to let out.

letting go can be so hard, even when it is the right thing, and especially if you are given no other option but to let go. but this book just amplifies, and continues to echo throughout, that reality so very much, because sometimes you really are forced to give up the entire sum of your heart, and you’ll never be prepared for the timing of it. we as humans just are not equipped to deal with that instant emptiness, no matter how many times we read about it in books.

“I want to explain her in a way that would make you love her, but the problem with this is that loving is something we all do alone and through different sets of eyes.”
i saw someone else say this, but this writing truly feels like the ebb and flow of a great body of water. i even noticed myself rocking slightly back and forth while turning these pages, because this is crafted in such a way that it truly does make the reading experience feel like waves (sometimes crashing against my heart over and over again eroding at something). such a hypnotic style and craft, i really can’t believe this is a debut novel.

again, i just know this is not going to be for everyone, maybe not even for the majority of readers, but i think this book could very much connect with certain readers. And if it does, i think you’ll love it wholeheartedly. also, maybe unimportantly, this book cover is truly an all time favorite for me. haunting, beautiful, and memorable just like the story inside.

lastly, this is an interview with them magazine that just really just makes my heart overflow with immeasurable joy, seeing queer writers subvert, empower, and reclaim the horror genre.

trigger + content warnings: grief, depression, death, loss of a loved one, loss of a parent, terminal illness, not great parents, a lot of blood depiction, body horror, talk of eating habits, hypochondria, insect mentions, menstruation mention, needle imagery, vomit, memory loss, nightmares, suicide, confinement that made me feel a little claustrophobic with the descriptions (being trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean for six months)

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♡ buddy read with Maëlys!
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book2,114 followers
June 8, 2023
I'm puzzled by this book. I think those who love it are able to leap over the structural haziness of the novel, and appreciate it for the lushness of the prose and also for the startling originality of some of the scenes. That's why I'm puzzled about why there are an equal or greater number of boring unnecessary scenes, of people meeting over coffee and having conversations that go nowhere.

This novel is like a handful of unset gemstones in a black velvet bag.
Profile Image for Melissa (Semi-hiatus Very Behind).
4,645 reviews2,102 followers
January 17, 2023
Such a beautiful, lyrical horror/romance novel. I can't say that I quite know what it was all about, my brain can't quite wrap around all of the themes and what they mean. But, for once, it doesn't really matter. I can sink into the beautiful writing and realize that this book will mean different things to different people.

All at once it's a novel about loss, about love, and about grief. About the letting go and the holding close. It is the tale of two women, Miri and Leah, who are separated for six months when Leah's deep-sea mission encounters issues and she is stuck under the sea. When she returns, nothing is as it was. We experience their lives before as flashbacks, their lives during the ordeal, and what happens afterward. Although that seems like a straightforward story, this book is anything but that.

This isn't an easy read, and there are no easy answers or interpretations. This is the kind of book that burrows itself deep inside of you and begs to be talked about. Armfield's prose is delicate, yet fierce; brutal in its imagery yet fragile in its meaning.

It's a book for a particular reader at a particular time, one who wants to take the time to ponder and mull over the different parts of it. If I had read this at another time would I have liked it this much? Maybe, maybe not. I listened to the audiobook, which is fabulously produced. The two narrators give perfect voices to the main characters and make them more relatable to me.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
442 reviews710 followers
July 30, 2022
"Our Wives Under the Sea" by Julia Armfield is a story about love, grief, and loss!

Miri's marine biologist wife, Leah, is finally coming home after six months at sea. A submariner exploratory mission that should have taken three weeks, ends in a mysterious disaster without meaningful communication from the 'Centre' for months. Miri still has questions that remain unanswered by Leah's employer.

Miri and Leah live together in the same flat but in different spaces now. Miri eats alone in the kitchen and sleeps alone in the spare bedroom. Leah spends a great deal of time locked in the bathroom running water from both taps. She doesn't eat but craves copious amounts of salted water.

Miri notices the differences in Leah. She sees Leah doing these alarmingly odd things and how her body is physically changing. Leah seems to be fading away. Is Miri different now, too?

I will say, and I'm sure about this, I have not ever read anything quite like this book before. It's beautifully written, oddly slow, a bit repetitive, thoughtful, and deeply sad. It's the kind of book that causes you to dig deep within and continue to think about it for a long time afterwards.

The alternating chapters tell the story via the first-person voices of both Miri and Leah. The story travels back into the memories of their relationship, with snippets of what happens under the sea, mingled with the current timeline once Leah is back home.

I read the digital copy and listened to the audiobook choosing to switch back and forth between the two short formats. The audiobook has two narrators, Annabel Baldwin & Robyn Holdaway, who give a unique voice to each of the main characters. I believe this is what gives listening a more emotional experience. With the digital copy, the visual experience of reading the printed word is an experience I will always find comforting!

I enjoy reading books that are different and this creative and beautifully written debut novel hits that mark for me. It's a story that I continue to think about and dissect over and over again. Like Leah, it keeps changing. It's that kind of story for me. I highly recommend!

Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books, Dreamscape Media and Julia Armfield for a free ARC and ALC of this book. It has been an honor to give my honest and voluntary review.
March 17, 2023
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Flatiron, and Julia Armfield for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 7.12!**

That's where I belong
And you belong with me
Not swallowed in the sea - Coldplay

Strange and lyrical, confusing and haunting, this is an interesting look at love, loss, and unexplained change with a bit of Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water tossed in for good measure!

Leah and Miri are in love, but circumstances have thrown a wrench into their relationship. Leah is an underwater explorer, and her last expedition via submarine working as an employee for the Centre went terribly wrong. She was gone for a whopping SIX months. When she returns, Miri notices stark and alarming changes...Leah constantly runs taps in the house. and has a need for salt water in and around her. Blood leaks from her gums, and her skin takes on an odd sheen. The divide between these two women widens, and although Miri searches on her own for more information on what REALLY transpired during this unusual expedition, she feels the woman she once loved fading away, possibly becoming something else entirely. Is it possible for Miri to reclaim what she once had...or has Leah given her mind, body, and soul irrevocably to the sea?

This is an interesting book on a number of levels. It's a bit of a genre bender, with the obvious romance, a heavy dose of sci-fi/horror, and some drama and even non-fiction-esque writing about oceans thrown in. I figured this would be a quick read due to the page count, but it did take me a little bit longer than I'd guessed to get through it. At first, I was caught up in Armfield's lovely prose, which was haunting and eerie, and figured that would carry me through till the end.

However, as the book wore on, all of the strange happenings to Leah were sort of reiterated over and over to the point where it felt unnecessary to keep mentioning them. We get that she constantly needs the salt water...but WHY? After a while, in this sort of book, you want some sort of answers, but this book is more like one long unexplained mystery. The writing is strong and held my attention for quite a while and I thought I was going to rate this one higher than I decided I could by the end...but basically, I just wanted MORE!

We got so many glimpses into Leah and Miri's past relationship, Leah's time trapped on the sub with her colleagues, and of course their current situation, but nothing CONCRETE. I don't want to say too much as to not spoil potential theories, but although this story is beautiful crafted in many respects and evocative, there was so much room for expansion. Which of course makes sense, given the length of the book...but based on the content that WAS there, I tend to think the author probably would have cycled back over some of her themes and ideas without truly going the extra mile to make everything come together in a cohesive way if the book had been longer.

While this book does vary dramatically from del Toro's Shape of Water in certain respects, I do think fans of that book would connect to this one, and I will be looking for Armfield's next work. I hope that NEXT time, however, the answers and conclusions I'm seeking won't feel so much like buried treasure, lost at sea.

3.5 stars

Nominated in the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Horror!
Profile Image for Henk.
874 reviews
May 11, 2022
Sapphic Annihilation and/or Arrival under the sea. Through alternating timelines the author deals with trauma and its aftermath, but I found the conclusion a bit unsatisfying
It was very easy to offend my mother, rather in a way it is very easy to kill and orchid, it often seemed little short of inevitable

Our Wives Under the Sea alternates between two perspectives: Miri in a current timeline and Leah, her wife, during the undersea expedition gone wrong.
Miri her tale focusses on trauma (Living means relinquishing the death), closeness with a partner, loneliness, fear of mental disease and an overall battle with unseen, bureaucratic forces. Despite the wittiness and sharp observations in these sections I felt a bit unmoved overall, with Miri being very passive despite the disturbing things happening with Leah.
The observations Miri makes speak of a keen observer, so it is rather a shame she turns out to be less of an actor overal:
Carmen typically speaks about him the way one might refer to a degree, a three year period one has to enjoy for one to talk with overbearing authority on exactly one subject.
She is the world’s living expert on loving and losing thirty year old men named Tom.

In her quest for understanding, she visits message boards for fictitious husbands lost in space, while her own wife starts to feel more and more fictional as well:
If I cut her, I am not sure she would bleed

Catholicism has an important role in Leah her story, a claustrophobic tale that for me really breathed Jeff VanderMeer with an expedition gone awry and forces ill understood. Also Solaris crossed my mind.
These sections would work so wel as a movie, I don’t know how to tell you this, really one of the main characters says, and that is kind of a problem with these sections of the book in general. It just feels to me that the story that Julia Armfield tells would work better in a different medium.
Also the narrative voice is a bit too similar in the two alternating segments.

Still an intriguing book and tender and fun at times as well: You are the kindest person I know, and I know 6 or 7 people.
Profile Image for a..
82 reviews130 followers
May 3, 2022
mm. i went back and forth between 2 and 3 stars but unfortunately i really don't think it stuck the landing enough for 3 stars to feel earned. 2.5, maybe.

this really should have worked for me - i love the sea as lurid and haunted and monstrous, i am a known herman melville stan account, and i love when people Come Back Wrong, so an effective interweaving of these two things would have so easily had me, like, crawling across the ceiling with excitement. so i think it does speak to the weakness of the text that this book moved me very, very little. i will say -- i don't at all agree with the reviews that complain about this book not effectively resolving itself by the end. while i very much think that armfield failed to sustain a particularly atmospheric tone such that by the last few chapters i was just sick to bastard death of both of these wives AND their sea, i think the lack of clear, neat resolution was far more effective, and would have landed really well in a book that was, you know, better. however, unfortunately, this was not that book.

for a start, i felt as though this floundered stylistically. there's a very particular tone of prose writing that i think is best described as the late-2010s tumblr richard siken era effect -- always in the first person (where a third person would have been far more effective in this book, but i'll come to that), mostly present tense, using a lot of 'I [verb]' statements of repetition in quick succession to build a crescendo without that crescendo ever landing. it's a style that's like, fine, if maybe overdone, in poetry, and in siken's work i see the effectiveness, but in a novel it really just irritates. like:

"After this, I sat on the floor of the kitchen and thought about Leah, about the shape of her feet and the way she spoke about her father, the special voice she used to talk to cats, her kind frown, her intonation, her fingernails. I thought about the time we kissed at the movies and a guy jerked off behind us and I complained to the management. I thought about fucking her on the floor of her uncle’s bathroom when we were staying over before a wedding. I thought about the way she often liked me to tell her what to do in bed. I thought about the day it first occurred to me that, should she die, there would be no one in the world I truly loved. You can, I think, love someone a very long time before you realise this, notice it in the way you note a facial flaw, a speech impediment, some imperfection which, once recognised, can never again be unseen. Are you just now realising that people die, Leah had said to me when I voiced this thought, tucked up beside her on the sofa with my knees pressed tight into the backs of hers. Not people, I had said, just you."

this reads like something that i would write when i was 15 and feel was very Profound but in fact has little substance to it at all besides a very derivative stylistic flair. certainly not a character voice that can be distinguished from armfield's authorial voice, the cardinal sin of the first person. i think it's tolerable if something else is giving momentum to the novel, but, god, the whole thing just read like this, and i can't bring myself to find it interesting.

lack of substance was a problem throughout this -- a lot of positive reviews seem to be praising the style, which as i have already established i personally find Fucking Unbearable, but the book doesn't have much else going for it besides this kind of showy but ultimately flat deployment of rhetoric and aesthetics. there's really nowhere near as much suspense built up as there could have been, especially in the leah chapters -- i want to feel enclosed! i want to feel claustrophobic! i want to feel doomed to die at the bottom of the sea! but, god, i was just bored. i think a close third person for miri and a first person for leah would have been far more effective than the use of the first person for both -- i am a hard, hard sell on the first person, especially when it's in the present tense, and it would have been very easy to establish maybe 20% more luridity by putting the reader at another degree of removal from miri and leah rather than having us occupy both of their heads so intimately. miri in particular didn't have a particularly distinctive character voice that wasn't just armfield's own poorly executed rhetorical flairs; she never felt like a character to me so much as a long set of things that armfield felt sounded poetic (and often didn't).

it's maybe petty of me to nitpick the use of a particular quote in an epigraph, but i think the passage from moby dick that armfield selected is actually a really good starting point for thinking about where this novel went wrong and how it might have been better. epigraphs function as framing devices such that the text implicitly enters into conversation with the work that it cites at the beginning, so it feels reasonable to evaluate a text on the basis of the extent to which it actually succeeded in doing so. so this quote, from melville:

Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.
Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!

-- is one that gets at one of melville's principle preoccupations, ie. that of how the sea as a space disrupts colonial efforts to control and mythologise and contain the land. the 'land' in the second paragraph is the colonised space made legible under colonial conditions and taxonomies ('the green, gentle, and most docile earth' is heavily ironic!) -- the sea is the point at which this fails. this is one of the driving forces behind moby dick, but ... idk, i'm not convinced julia armfield takes this passage to mean much more than 'hey isn't the sea fucked up.' which is fine, i guess, but i think if we consider this interpretation, it elucidates why this book was a little ... bad.

there is a better version of this book that tries to engage with this idea -- that tries to get us to think about miri and leah as lesbians who are conditionally welcomed into a capitalist-colonial fold, situated within it via the strictures of colonial taxonomies (wives; marriage; their wealth, miri's clearly wealthy background; the constant appeals to wealthy parents and messy, fraught relationships with them; all of these standing in for a partial absorption of queerness into the hegemonic body) that the sea, as melville represents it, manages to come along and rupture. there is a version of this book that knows what it's doing when it has miri go on and on and on about her dead mother even though wealthy white lesbians having fraught relationships with their wealthy white mothers was difficult to make interesting 50 years ago and is nigh-on impossible now, or has miri say that she thinks of penetrative sex as a 'battering' to which leah fingering her is a corrective. there are moments were some very loose gesture towards interesting discursive moves around lesbian gender are made -- the part where miri joke-threatens to cut leah's tits off if leah kept reading her poetry and then leah continues to read her the poetry was one of the most interesting moments in this book, which is perhaps not flattering -- but what mostly-formless shape those moments manage to take is still outmaneuvered by these pithy little middle-class hangups and anxieties about straight friends who only think that they're 'similar' because they're both women, or getting mistaken for sisters, and so on. it's perhaps self-involved and boring of me to wish for lesbians who have a sense of lesbianism as a force that can disrupt or complicate gender beyond these little half-moves, but i am the way that i am and the way that i am is very very disinterested in a book that assumes my ability to connect to and empathise with lesbians who are a thousand worlds away from lesbianism as i understand and experience it. it was very ... go girl give us nothing. the point is -- this painted such a dull, dull portrait of lesbianism, and i think there's a route this book could have taken that was aware of this, but. it didn't, lol.

in general, i just found that ... like, for a book that was under 200 pages, this dragged on, and on, and on. drowning as a metaphor for trauma is very, very dull. the suspense was almost nonexistent and the characters were not characters -- they were barely even archetypes. i don't know if i could distinguish miri from leah, tbh. the nicest thing i can think to say is 'i guess i didn't hate it.' oh well!
Profile Image for Blair.
1,792 reviews4,423 followers
March 2, 2022
(2.5) File under ‘not for me’. The premise is striking (Miri’s wife Leah returns from a deep-sea mission mysteriously changed) and the opening sentences irresistible (‘the deep sea is a haunted house’ is a perfect line, quoted in every other review for good reason). The book is full of water imagery and metaphors, which also seem apt for my feelings about the story and characters; like they were slipping away, pouring through my fingers, before I had a chance to get a grip on anything. Every time I got excited about some element of the story – the dramatic potential of the botched submarine dive, the mystery surrounding ‘the Centre’, the online forum where people pretend to have husbands lost in space! – I soon found myself plunged back into more of Miri reminiscing about the early stages of their relationship, or Leah’s very slow-paced chapters. Our Wives is really all about Miri and Leah’s love story, and there’s only so much I can bring myself to care about a love described in such cold, glancing terms. I felt it would’ve worked better as a short story.

I received an advance review copy of Our Wives Under the Sea from the publisher through NetGalley.

TinyLetter | Linktree
Profile Image for li.reading.
71 reviews2,625 followers
July 9, 2022
If my wife ever tells me she’s going on a deep sea mission I will be running away.


Body Horror, Confinement

Moderate: Death (including: parent), Grief, Terminal Illness, Disordered Eating, Psychosis

Mild/Mention: Animal Death, Fatphobia, Homophobia, Misogyny
Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
466 reviews152 followers
October 4, 2022
A devastatingly romantic novel that poses the question: when is it appropriate to start grieving someone? Does it hurt more to hold on or to let go? Amongst memories and reflections, we see the complexities of surrendering to love, to opening up one’s heart to another, only to be faced with solitude. We witness the unrivaled pain of watching someone loved dearly become a stranger, and fade away. The prose is haunting, breathtakingly earnest and filled with longing. We can all relate to the surreal process of growing apart from our loved ones, whether it be through death, trauma, or diverging paths. We have all lived with the ghosts of what was, what could have been. An remarkable reading experience.
Profile Image for Kate Quinn.
Author 26 books24.6k followers
December 31, 2022
Finished this at three a.m., wishing I had a nightlight. Elegant, literary, eerie horror.
Profile Image for Alwynne.
643 reviews729 followers
January 12, 2022
Julia Armfield’s hotly-anticipated debut novel reads like a queer variation on a changeling myth, occupying an unusual space between horror, speculative fiction and grim fairy tale. Armfield’s story’s tightly, almost stiflingly, focused on Miri and Leah, a married couple who’ve settled into comfortable intimacy only interrupted by Leah’s marine research taking her away for stretches of time. But then something goes horribly wrong, a field trip that should’ve taken weeks turns to months, Miri has no sense of what’s happened to Leah or where she is, and the mysterious institute that employs her seems unwilling or unable to help. Then Leah returns but she’s not the woman she was, and things slowly but surely deteriorate. Armfield alternates between Leah's and Miri’s voices: Leah gradually revealing what took place after a supposedly routine expedition stranded her, with her crew, in the deepest, murkiest depths of the ocean; Miri in the present desperately trying to work out what’s become of the Leah she knew.

Armfield’s talked about her love of horror movies and their influence on her particular brand of queer gothic, so maybe it’s not surprising that images from films kept running through my head while reading this: everything from “The Abyss”, “The Deep” and “Sphere” to “Extant” and “The Astronaut’s Wife.” All narratives that hinge on the aftermath of mysterious encounters with the wilderness of space or the ocean deeps, this seems very much in the same vein albeit with a more literary, lyrical dimension and an emphasis on a peculiarly Lovecraftian, feminist body horror. But it’s also an exploration of grief, being tied to a relationship you know’s dying, cut off from reality, mired in sorrow and the anticipation of loss. Armfield cleverly parallels past and present: Leah entombed in a claustrophobic vessel, strange, uncanny sounds penetrating from beyond its thin hull; Miri and Leah reunited, isolated in their tiny flat, oppressed by the continuous din of their neighbours’ TV.

There was a lot I really liked about this, it’s pleasingly melancholy and atmospheric, and I enjoyed Armfield’s portrayal of the minutiae of Miri and Leah’s relationship, as well as the rich detailing of Leah’s fascination with oceanic expeditions and marine biology – opening up environmentalist themes akin to aspects of VanderMeer’s Project X sequence. But there were also elements I found frustrating, Miri’s segments were slow-moving and slightly repetitive particularly compared to the more concrete developments represented in Leah’s side of the story. Some of the imagery felt overdone, the repeated references to teeth, for example, which started to read like parody - presumably tracing back to Armfield’s previous research on the body in literature. And I was very uncertain about the final stages of the book, there were numerous points where the phrase "jumping the shark" came to mind. Although part of my problem might relate to how heavily hyped this one's been, laden with advance praise from people like Sarah Waters and Florence Welch, so I think I came to it with overly high expectations.

Thanks to Netgalley and publisher Picador for an arc

Rating: 3/3.5 
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
674 reviews6,841 followers
May 10, 2023
Reading Vlog; https://youtu.be/eltFcu9t0e0

Listen y'all, I just didn't get it. I'm a simpleton who was confused the whole way through and even after deep diving on Reddit, I remained baffled.

Everyone pitched this as the most exquisite writing they'd ever read. While I didn't think the writing was bad by any means, I didn't think it was anything to write home about. There weren't many moments I felt compelled to highlight or tab. Again, not to say it's a poorly written book but I don't understand the hype surrounding it.

The deeper meanings were lost on me and I truly hope that it finds it's audience. Unfortunately, I can't count myself amongst their number.

I love that this is a literary horror about lesbian scientists. But the characters/relationship was a lot of telling and not showing. It would have benefited from more of Leah's POV and more flashbacks of Myra and Leah together rather than Myra's idea of how they were. If that makes sense.

I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it. I just want to lend voice to anyone feeling similarly to me. Who didn't get it and is genuinely puzzled by the hype.
Profile Image for fatma.
922 reviews646 followers
July 14, 2022
2.5 stars

I really thought I would love this book; it simply didn't occur to me that I wouldn't. Julia Armfield's debut, Salt Slow, is one of my favourite short story collections ever; the inimitable SARAH WATERS blurbed this novel; every author who I've seen talk about this novel online has given it nothing less than a stellar review--all signs pointed to my loving this. And yet, quite frankly, I just didn't.

Our Wives Under the Sea was, for me, the kind of novel that you forget about the second you finish it--honestly, the kind of novel you forget about as you're reading it. The biggest issue with this book is that its story doesn't have any meat, nothing to really sink your teeth into. You're given descriptions and vague impressions and feelings and moments and snippets of memory, but none of this ever feels like it's attached to anything solid, to any kind of substantial foundation. The result is that the novel feels like a collection of disparate parts rather than a cohesive whole, a bunch of jumbled elements that never really coalesce into anything that feels like a proper narrative. (Luce's review sums up my feelings perfectly.)

More than making the story forgettable, this lack of substance also makes Our Wives Under the Sea so hard to get through. This is a very short novel, and yet it felt like such a drag to read. There's no sense of momentum, here, nothing to make you want to keep reading. The novel is split into two timelines, and rather than becoming more complex or interesting as you go on, they just end up stagnating. Bad things happen, and then bad things keep happening, and then the characters keep thinking about how bad things are, and none of this feels particularly compelling because it's all so samey.

(I also didn't really like all the science-y facts about the ocean and aquatic life; they felt clunky, like they were included only because Armfield did the research and wanted to put them somewhere in the novel.)

I know a novel is a favourite of mine when I can look back on reading it and distinctly remember all of its best moments: the moments that moved me, the moments that surprised me, the moments that made me think. Our Wives Under the Sea is not a novel you can distinctly remember anything about because nothing in this novel ever feels distinct in any way. It all goes by in a blur, and then you're just left with a sense of nothingness that doesn't go anywhere.

Thanks so much to Picador for providing me with an e-ARC of this via Netgalley!
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,819 reviews1,372 followers
December 7, 2022
Leah: The deep sea is a haunted house: a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness ……….. What you have to understand … is that things can thrive in unimaginable conditions. All the need is the right sort of skin …. There are no empty places …. However deep you go .. however far down, you’ll find something there

Miri: I used to think there was such a thing as emptiness, that there were places in the world one could go and be alone. This, I think, is still true, but the error in my reasoning was to assume that alone was somewhere you could go, rather than somewhere you had to be left.

A memorably different debut novel which in its brief pages manages to combine myth, fable, submarine adventure and gothic horror in an subliminal exploration of (same sex) love and grieving.

The book is narrated in alternating first party chapters by Miri and her wife Leah in a series of sections named – and implicitly themed - after the descending zones of the sea (Sunlight, Twilight, Midnight, Abyssal, Hadal).

Leah is a marine biologist, now working for the enigmatic Centre for Marine Inquiry and one of a small crew of 3 on a submarine on an unspecified mission to explore the very depths of the ocean. However the voyage which should have taken three weeks instead took six months due to a submarine malfunction – and when she is returned to Miri by the Centre she is altered both mentally and (increasingly) physically – her body increasingly seeming at one with the sea under which she lived for so long.

Miri’s chapters are set some time after Leah’s return – as Miri increasingly tries to understand what is happening to her wife via the difficult to access and impersonal Centre. We witness via her Leah’s increasingly watery and saline regression as well as looking back on the early stages of their relationship. There are a number of quirky elements to Miri’s tale which both add colour and some noteworthy writing: a constantly playing TV in the neighbours flat upstairs which largely soundtracks her life; a friend with vision difficulties and an ex-obsession (Carmen typically speaks about [Tom] in the way one might refer to a batchelor’s degree: a three-year period one has to endure in order to talk with overbearing authority on exactly one subject. She is the world’s living expert on loving and losing thirty-year-old men named Tom”; and (in particular) her dalliance with an online site where women fantasise that they are earthbound (EB) while their husbands (MHIS) are on lengthy deep space missions or (more pertinently to Miri) CBW (came back wrong).

Leah’s – which we later find out are from a contemporaneously written journal - tell the story of the voyage interspersed with marine exploration facts, trivia and colour. We learn of the strange lethargy and inaction that affects the crew as they quickly realise that the submarine is out of their control and that they have lost their link to the surface but that all of the life support devices are functioning. But also of the mysterious sound, smell and (for one religiously inclined crew member) voice they experience on the seabed – a voice which eventually drives them to action. We also learn of some sea based myth and legend – most memorably the tale of St Brendan of Clonfort. And this part reaches a haunting ending which casts doubts on both the true nature of their mission as well as the cause of its apparent failure.

Both have suffered parental loss. Miri of her judgmental mother who lived in a crumbling cliff-side house (which Chekov-gun style inevitably hosts the book’s moving conclusion) and who died from a disease which is potentially inheritable (casting its shadow of mortality over Miri). Leah of her father (who she saw as a ghost for a period after his death) who taught her to swim and whose book and magazine collection triggered her love of underwater exploration.

Miri’s section features what I think is a pivotal idea:

I have always thought the edge of the water is somehow particularly cold – a strange almost-place that seems perceptibly to dip in temperature. It is something Leah has always put down to the shifting of the air between two elements, the chilly liminality of water and earth. Standing at the place where one fades into the other, I have always been sure that I feel it: the sudden confusion. The air drawing taut between one stage and another. Looking out across the water and feeling my feet connected to something more solid than the plunging uncertainty beyond, I have always felt weighted, literal, a tangible creature connected to the earth. The only time I felt something very different to this was when we saw the sea lung. It was a term Leah taught me, that day in fact, grasped my hand and kissed it and told me that “sea lung” was an ancient term once used by sailors to describe the slough of ice that forms on the surface of the ocean when the air changes temperature rapidly enough to freeze water thrown to the surface in choppy weather. The effect created is that of a sort of floating platform – a spread of barely solid water like a vast and drifting jellyfish that sailors once took to be some organ of the sea’s internal structure come loose and straining skywards.

I still remember it: a drifting anomaly of matter, solid and yet not quite so, spread out beyond the doom bar. I remember the sensation of my feet on solid ground and my hand in Leah’s solid grasp and the disconcerting sight of something almost solid further out. It seemed, from a distance, to be something one could conceivably walk on, though of course in reality if you set foot on it, it would immediately give way to the water beneath. I turned to Leah and felt an odd sort of relief, despite her hand around mine, to find her still with me, to find she had not moved further up the beach to search for cowrie shells and left me teetering in this uncertain place. The sea lung moved very slightly, leading me to feel that the ground I stood on might be moving too, might be less solid than I assumed. I pressed my free hand to my chest and wondered how solid that could really be, how tangible anything about me might really be. Standing on the edge, I could feel it. The chill of the air, aching to become something else.

As ultimately that sense of liminality – between air and water, sea and land (picked up brilliantly in an epigraph taken from Moby Dick), sea and sea-bed; between child and parent, lover and lover, wife and wife; between matter and perception; between reality and myth, reality and message board fantasy, reality and reality TV; between matter and perception; and between life and death, relationship and mourning – lies ay the very heart of this very clever and striking novel.

If I had any criticisms: the voices of Miri and Leah, once the obvious extraneous circumstances of their narration are stripped away are a little too similar; the watery metaphors are perhaps piled on a little too much – I tried in this review after my opening “subliminal exploration” to resist the temptation to talk about the book being immersive, or its hidden depths, or claustrophobic prose, or salty observations … the author seems to have lower resistance.

My thanks to Picador for an ARC via NetGalley

This alchemist sea, changing something into something else ………… What persists .. is only air and water and me between them, not quite either
Profile Image for Lucy Jane Wood.
17 reviews2,413 followers
June 29, 2023
I defy anyone to read “The deep sea is a haunted house” at the start of a story and not instantly be hooked.

The layers to this book are endless and fascinatingly subjective, and it clung to me in a claustrophobic way every time I put it down. Miri is married to marine biologist, Leah. Leah has returned from a mission that went drastically wrong and saw her trapped in submarine under the sea. The viewpoint alternates between the two wives, with Miri trying to cope with the aftermath of losing her wife to this trauma, while Leah is experiencing the accident in real time to great, sickening suspense.

But it’s an interesting one, because I wouldn’t consider this a thriller or a horror - the account of the accident itself is not clear or graphic. Instead it feels supernatural, strange and unknowable, while exploring the most universal feelings of love and grief. I like the idea of it being about loss in relationships, feeling someone slip away from you slowly but surely, and being powerless towards it. Armfield’s prose is suspenseful, intimate and haunting with beauty, while the ending truly left a lump in my throat. So unsettling and unlike anything I’ve ever picked up before.
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
247 reviews967 followers
June 5, 2023
4.5 stars

What a love story. Julia Armfield’s debut novel, Our Wives Under the Sea, is absolutely heartbreaking. Just thinking of it hurts my heart.

It’s the good kind of hurt, though. The kind of hurt that tells you a book has left a mark.

But the story is a creeper. It starts out slow, and stays slow, and you don’t even realize how invested you are in Miri and Leah’s lives, in Miri’s devastation and helplessness as she watches Leah change, until the end nears and the pain settles in your gut.

At this point, I should back up and tell you a bit of the plot.

Leah has just returned from the sea after being submerged for six months in a research submarine. While she was away, Miri didn’t know if Leah was alive or dead, lost or found, as Leah’s employer told her nothing.

That, in and of itself, is enough to make you crazy. The not knowing. But when Leah does return, she’s not the same Leah. She’s withdrawn, weak, and bleeding from her gums and skin. And Miri is left to wonder what happened to her wife, there under the sea.

I don’t see Armfield’s story appealing to the masses. It will take a certain type of reader to click with it. A reader who is patient and appreciates quirky tales.

And seeing as I am a certain type of reader, I loved the book because of its strangeness. For its originality and the emotional havoc it wreaks.

Armfield has delivered a stunner of a first novel. I will read everything she writes.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,969 reviews1,984 followers
August 8, 2022

My Review
: First, read this:
The space around us is a claw half grasped, holding tight without quite crushing, and I wish, in the idle way I always wish these days, that I felt more confident in my ability to breathe.
I used to think there was such a thing as emptiness, that there were places in the world one could go and be alone. This, I think, is still true, but the error in my reasoning was to assume that alone was somewhere you could go, rather than somewhere you had to be left.
Her tone is perfectly reasonable, even kind. Beneath it, however, there is little enough in the way of feeling, a chilly blank where the rest of her voice, as I know it, should be.

Don't think for a moment that this is ever an easy book to read. It's not long, only 240pp, or probably 85,000 to 90,000 words. It's a supremely effective exercise in lovely phrase-making that adds up to an eerie atmospheric story of two women in a marriage based on so many broken places and invisibly tiny hooks on long, thin, almost undetectable filaments that intertwine with the other's reaching filaments...no telling whose reach in, whose reach out, the effect still mimics velcro for the soul.
I used to think it was vital to know things, to feel safe in the learning and recounting of facts. I used to think it was possible to know enough to escape from the panic of not knowing, but I realize now that you can never learn enough to protect yourself, not really.

I felt my impatience with Miri, the wife on land, wax and wane several times during the read...in life I'd find Miri intolerable...and I found Leah more and more relatable, as the quote above could've been ripped out of my mind and prettied up some to be Leah's voice. I understood these two women being together, and I understood why Author Armfield introduced a new Leah-like character to be active for Miri the passive, the sea-like all-absorbing heatless Miri. I understood...but I didn't love.

Too much of what happened reminded me of Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation, possibly more the filmed version than the book. Too many things left off, dangling conversations like the one in the ancient Simon & Garfunkel song. The eerieness of it is very close to ennui at times, Leah speaks of exhaustion that feels bottomless and that unfortunately is what I took away from this read.

But oh my goddesses, the beautiful phrases. The beautiful, beautiful phrases, the concepts caught in their gem facets, oh my goddesses. Give me that all day long. I promise I won't complain a peep about the "plot".

Let's all chip in and by Miri one of these for USD240!
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