by Amity Gaige
It’s my stop on the “Sea Wife” blog tour! Publisher Fleet have provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads.
Juliet is failing to juggle motherhood and her stalled-out dissertation on confessional poetry when her husband, Michael, informs her that he wants to leave his job and buy a sailboat. With their two kids—Sybil, age seven, and George, age two—Juliet and Michael set off for Panama, where their forty-four foot sailboat awaits them.
The initial result is transformative; the marriage is given a gust of energy, Juliet emerges from her depression, and the children quickly embrace the joys of being feral children at sea. Despite the stresses of being novice sailors, the family learns to crew the boat together on the ever-changing sea. The vast horizons and isolated islands offer Juliet and Michael reprieve – until they are tested by the unforeseen.
Sea Wife is told in gripping dual perspectives: Juliet’s first person narration, after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing events that unfolded at sea, and Michael’s captain’s log, which provides a riveting, slow-motion account of these same inexorable events, a dialogue that reveals the fault lines created by personal history and political divisions.
Sea Wife is a transporting novel about marriage, family and love in a time of unprecedented turmoil. It is unforgettable in its power and astonishingly perceptive in its portrayal of optimism, disillusionment, and survival.
“Sea Wife” is a really unique book, with a format and topic that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before.
Michael and Juliet have packed up their lives and their two children for a life on the sea. Do they have any experience? Nope, Michael just has a longing for freedom and he’s bringing his family along for the ride.
“Where does a mistake begin?”
This is very much a complex character based story meandering through themes of marriage and family, touching on depression, abuse and grief. Would your relationship survive months aboard a boat with two young children in tow?
The story is told mostly by Juliet, flicking between her life before, after and during the journey. Michael’s point of view is shared through his captain’s log, recording his experiences in the form of a journal.
I found this story to be compelling and once it got going I was invested in the sailing journey and had to know what happened next. The story has a very strong sense of place and it’s very easy to picture the events as they are happening. I enjoyed the multi-layered style and found the writing to be lyrical at times, with some beautiful passages.
I did struggle a little with the transitions between different time periods, as there isn’t a transparent divide with headings, for example. I also didn’t really enjoy the descriptions and terminology of boat life that much, but that’s probably just because it’s so alien to me and mostly went over my head!
I’ve not read anything by Amity Gaige before, but will definitely keep an eye out for more. This was an enjoyable read that I’d recommend, especially if you have any experience of sailing yourself.
Overall rating: “Sea Wife” takes a complex look at marriage and family life whilst sailing the sea around the Caribbean. The writing is beautiful at times but with themes of depression and abuse this isn’t a particularly upbeat read. I struggled a little with the terminology but enjoyed it nonetheless. This was a strong 3 star read for me!