Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our Wives Under the Sea” as Want to Read:
Our Wives Under the Sea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Our Wives Under the Sea

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  11,570 ratings  ·  2,698 reviews
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 thei ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 3rd 2022 by Picador
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Our Wives Under the Sea, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Mari Silva
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,570 ratings  ·  2,698 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Our Wives Under the Sea
Jul 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Lala BooksandLala
Jul 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, horror
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. ...more
Jul 13, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, slow
Ellie Spencer
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 l
luce (so' morta dentro)
| | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | |

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.
Terrie  Robinson
"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
Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)
**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
Apr 05, 2022 rated it liked it
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 mea
Jul 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
Lark Benobi
May 11, 2022 rated it really liked it
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. It's not just that it's good writing--there are some really amazing scenes, too. 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 han
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
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, bu
(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 tim ...more
Richard Derus
Jul 18, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Emily Coffee and Commentary
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 surre ...more
Nov 06, 2021 rated it liked it
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
Ron Charles
Lovers drift apart.

Nothing could be more ordinary. But that common tale of woe feels shocking in Julia Armfield’s debut novel, “Our Wives Under the Sea.”

The very first line of her exceedingly moody story warns us to expect the unexpected: “The deep sea is a haunted house,” Armfield writes, “a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness.”

And yet even that gothic portent can’t prepare us for what lies beneath the surface of this queer romance.

In one sense, the plot is
Roman Clodia
Oct 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
The deep sea is a haunted house: a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness

Such a close and claustrophobic piece of writing: the sense of entrapment of a deep-sea vessel under the ocean is mirrored by the intimate relationship of Miri and Leah confined to their flat, both places surrounded by intrusive noises and a sense of alienation. And the gradual disintegration of Leah's bodily surfaces reflects the coming apart of the marriage till that ultimate moment o
Apr 01, 2022 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
sapphic book with beautiful cover praised by sarah waters and florence welch? yes, you have my full attention
no one: how many water/sea metaphors can we cram into one book?
julia armfield: yes
Mar 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
"The ocean is unstill," she says, "further down than you think. All the way to the bottom, things move." She seldom talks this much of this fluently, legs crossed and gaze towards the window, the familar slant of her expression, all her features slipping gently to the left. I'm aware, by now, that this kind of talk isn't really meant for me, but is simply a conversation she can't help having, the result of questions asked in some closed-off part of her head. "What you have to understand," she sa ...more
Johann (jobis89)
Dec 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Certified Julia fangirl. I need MORE.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I get a lot of eARCs for books but try not to post about them until they are out, however I messed up and read this four months early and I'll never remember that long. One of my Goodreads groups was reading it as a group read, I guess because it was out in the UK already, so I just assumed! The rest of you, watch out in July!

Leah and Miri were married when Leah went on a deep sea expedition that went missing. The novel starts with her back at home but definitely not the same. In some ways the c
beautiful, soft, murky, and so very sad.

leah has returned, horribly changed, from a failed submarine expedition that trapped her under the sea for longer than was planned. her wife, miri, cares for leah and aches for the parts of her that seem to have vanished entirely.

the story is beautifully told. chapters alternate between leah recounting the story of what happened in the submarine, and miri narrating the lonesome tedium and small horrors of their current domestic life. both of their situatio
Charlotte McConaghy
Apr 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
What a strange, unsettling, fascinating book. I found it deeply frightening, delicate, sensual and intimate.
Renee Godding
"The deep sea is a haunted house: a place in which things that ought not to exist move about in the darkness. Unstill, is the word Leah uses.(...) The ocean is unstill, she says, futher down than you think. All the way down to the bottom, things move."

5/5 stars

Ever since her 2019 short-story collection Salt Slow captured my heart and imagination, I’ve been eagerly anticipating whatever Julia Armfield would bring us next. When I learned that her next release would be her debut literary horror nov
May 03, 2022 rated it it was ok
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
not sure how to rate this. the writing was good, i had a nice time, but i feel aggressively neutral about it, like im gonna forget i even read this by next month. but 3 stars for neutrality feels like too low of a rating. idk.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Literary Fiction + LGBTQ + Horror

This is the story of a lesbian couple, Leah and Miri. Leah’s expedition faces a disastrous fate. Her submarine sinks deep in the sea. She survives this catastrophe but there is a price. Miri thinks her wife has changed and not her true self. All Leah wants now is to be soaked in water, in seawater. Miri wants to know the truth of what happened to her wife under the sea when she returned months later. She searches for answers but at the same tim
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
Final Round
5,375,627 Votes Cast

Readers also enjoyed

  • Razorblade Tears
  • The Personal Librarian
  • A Slow Fire Burning
  • Grief is the Thing with Feathers
  • Fan Club
  • Pearl
  • This Golden State
  • Dare to Know
  • The Grimrose Girls (Grimrose Girls, #1)
  • Smithers & Wing
  • Chunky
  • The Lottery
  • Damnation Spring
  • How Lucky
  • The Turnout
  • The Crimson Petal and the White
  • The Guide
  • A Town Called Solace
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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 ...more

Articles featuring this book

Time is ticking! If you’re currently participating in the 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge, autumn is a good season to check your progress and...
247 likes · 48 comments
“I think,” Juna says after a pause, “that the thing about losing someone isn’t the loss but the absence of afterwards. D’you know what I mean? The endlessness of that.” She looks sideways at me and sniffs. “My friends were sad, people who knew my sister were sad, but everyone moves on after a month. It’s all they can manage. It doesn’t mean they weren’t sad, just that things keep going or something, I don’t know.” She rolls her shoulder, shakes her head. “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.” 19 likes
“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.” 12 likes
More quotes…