Sometimes you stumble across a book that you think you have wired in the first few pages. You think you understand what the focus and impetus of the story is and then you sit back to watch it all unfold.
And then quite suddenly the literary ground shifts and you are reassessing what you think you know. And the story is flying and pulling you along with it.
This has absolutely been my experience with Sea Wife by Amity Gaige, published 2nd July, by Fleet. And this is why I was so thrilled to be invited on to the blog tour.
Sea Wife is the story of a middle class American couple from Connecticut, Juliet and Michael. Michael, growing increasingly disenchanted and restless in his daily life persuades Juliet to rent out their house, plough their savings into a yacht and take their two young children off on the adventure of a lifetime.
From the beginning the reader is aware that all is not well. We begin with Juliet’s narrative. She is back home in Connecticut, hiding out in the closet, reading Michael’s ‘Captain’s Log’. The adventure is over and it is clear it has ended in undefined tragedy. Already the author is weaving tension into the telling of this tale. Using the dual narrative of Juliet’s reflections and Michael’s log, we are driven towards the conclusion of the voyage, tension ebbing and flowing, leading us on.
This book is an illuminating and sometimes dark portrait of a marriage. Juliet and Michael’s discord and lack of harmony slowly emerge as the novel progresses. This trip is a gamble, a chance to repair and heal divides which has emerged and grown over the years. Divided by Juliet’s postnatal depression, by increasing political differences, their marriage is floundering. At points it even seems that maybe this is a marriage that never should have been.
Both Michael and Juliet seem to have lost their sense of identity . We are presented with breathtaking and lyrical descriptions of the crippling depression which Juliet suffers. It’s becomes clear that she has lost her sense of self, dropping out of her graduate programme. Michael too is searching for a sense of purpose and identity, caught up in increasingly right wing politics and dreaming of escaping from the daily grind with his family. Both struggling to hold on to their own identities, they are therefore struggling to hold to what binds them together and defines them together as a couple.
The family’s journey is not linear. It is filled with light and shade; one minute this adventure seems to have brought them to paradise, the next they seem so far away from that. The obvious and increasing differences between this couple are compounded by emerging secrets; events that they are struggling to keep in the past and move beyond.
The two different view points continue throughout the novel, moving close together only to diverge again at moments notice. It is this unpredictably that builds this a underlying sense of tension.
This is a book that takes you out of your comfort zone and leaves you trying piece together a sense of what is to come almost from the first paragraph. There is a sense of inevitability that pushes the reader forward. And yet it is not a story without hope. It is a story about limits, and what happens when we move beyond them. It’s is a story that will linger for a long time.
And there is more…
For more reviews and reactions to Sea Wife by Amity Gaige check out the rest of the Blog Tour below…