Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

"I've lived my whole life with a land mind. Thinking land thoughts. But I want to think sea thoughts. I want to have a sea mind."

What defines a summer read? For me, summer reading is a mindset, a shift to addictive page-turners that pull on my emotions through either strong character drama or twisty thrills. I think a good summer read should also have some relationship to the season. That could be as simple as a book taking place in the summer or even just a tropical or vacation-like setting. The best even have both. As I've had more time to read than ever before (thanks COVID-19), I've ventured into the kinds of books I normally wouldn't read. Usually, my reading time is so limited that I choose books that I'm certain I will love. Now I have the time to explore those titles that I would normally be on the fence about. As the summer reading season begins to set in, I've vowed to be more adventurous and try to redefine what a summer read means to me.

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige is the perfect starting point for this endeavor. I mean, look at that lush tropical landscape on the cover! I'd much rather be exploring that island than being quarantined at my house, but at least I can turn to a book to transport me there. Sea Wife adheres to some of my preconceptions of a summer read while simultaneously redefining them.  This is the literary tale of a family who decides to escape the banality of suburban life by purchasing a sailboat and sailing across the waters of the Caribbean. It combines the adventure of a high seas expedition with the more intimate reflections of family life and the drama that comes within. In short, a truly riveting read that won't soon be forgotten.

"Sometimes life just writes you tiny, awful poems."

Juliet traded her dreams of earning her advanced degree in poetry for a life as a wife and mother. Her life just turned out so conventional and ordinary. She was a bright student brimming with promise when she met Michael. One marriage and two children later, and Juliet just couldn't get around to finishing her dissertation. She kept pushing out the deadline until it could be pushed no more. Finally, she had to succumb to the inevitable. The life she planned to live wasn't going the be the life she was given. That's a hard fact for a woman with a history of depressive episodes to face. Her marriage is beginning to strain under the pressure of her perennial disappointment, and Juliet is not sure things can be saved. Then Michael comes to her with a crazy idea.

Michael has a life that most men would envy. He's got a good enough job, a beautiful wife, two healthy kids, and a house in a nice enough neighborhood. Still, he can't shake the feeling that something is missing. His marriage isn't what it used to be, and he fears he is wasting the best years of his life. Inspired by fond childhood memories of sailing with his father, Michael uses his lunch breaks to escape to the local marina. He stares out at the boats, recollecting and wishing for something more. At the marina, Michael befriends an elderly man who quickly takes to talking about boats, the open sea, and the life that could be. Eventually, he presents his plan to Juliet. They can buy a sailboat, take a year off of work, and sail with the family to Panama. Life at sea would give them a chance to break from the rut of their lives, show their children a different part of the world, and maybe even help them begin to mend their broken relationship. Juliet hesitantly agrees. After all, life can't get much worse than what it already is.

"This is it. This is what a life is. A journey with no signposts. The seas roll out in every direction. There but for the grace of God."

In Sea Wife, Amity Gaige writes of a family's emotional journey that is as harrowing as the physical journey they have undertaken. In fact, the adventure at sea can almost be seen as a kind of analogy to the internal story of Juliet and Michael's emotional exploration. Gaige reveals her narrative from two separate perspectives.  The first is of present-day Juliet reflecting upon her time at sea. She is in one of her depressive states spending her days in the bedroom closet, struggling to deal with the ramifications of the family's time at sea. Nestled into this perspective is that of Michael in the form of a captain's log that Juliet is slowly reading. In this log, Gaige presents the time at sea as it chronologically unfolds, allowing her two divergent threads to slowly make their way to convergence. She veils her challenging, emotional story into that of a seafaring adventure, the kind of read that I normally gravitate to this time of year. This combination allows Sea Wife to be both a page-turner and intimate character study, the likes of which had me facing emotions I wasn't prepared to feel. I think I related more to this story because of our current quarantine situation. It was hard not to sympathize with a four-person family confined to the small space of a sailboat. It is safe to say that Sea Wife has helped me to challenge my own perception of what constitutes a summer read by forcing me to expand them. I still need the adventure and the strong character drama, but now I'm more apt to seek out the more introspective emotional aspects too. For that reason, I think Sea Wife is a must-read for any serious summer reader.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2020, 22)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

35 Responses to “Sea Wife by Amity Gaige”

  1. Yeah, I don't usually think of a book full of emotional introspection as a beach/summer read, but it sounds like this worked out for you. I usually think of a fun, easy read, or I love a suspenseful thriller/mystery for my beach reads. The cover does scream "summer read" though. I'm wondering how it all turned out for their family. Hopefully it was a happy ending. I need those in my fiction. Real life has enough unhappy endings. Wonderful review, Ethan!

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    1. You might want to hold off on this one if a happy ending is a must for you :|

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    2. Ha! Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate it. :)

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  2. Are there serious summer readers? ;D I really love that first quote. There are certainly times where I long for sea thoughts rather than land thoughts. Especially during the summer. And it's always fun to branch out in your reading when you have more time. Can't wait to see what else you read this summer.

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    1. I'm longing for the day when it is safe to go to a beach again!

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  3. This is new to me but it sounds fantastic and I can tell you enjoyed it. Definitely one for summer! Hope you and yours are staying healthy!

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    1. Thanks. It is definitely a bit different and *potential spoilers here* darker/more tragic than I initially expected, but I still really enjoyed reading it.

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  4. "Sometimes life just writes you tiny, awful poems." I really like this quote. Interesting mix of character/relationship study with sea adventure. That kind of confinement in a small space could definitely bring out the best and worst in people.

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    1. Absolutely! We just got a reopening date at work, so I'm eager to get back to the real world a bit.

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  5. It's nice to feel like we have the time and headspace to branch out and read different books. I recently read Kim Ji-young, Born 1982. I rarely read contemporary fiction, but I really enjoyed it.

    I love the quotes that you give for Sea Wife and how this book explores a family's emotional journey alongside of their physical journey via the sailboat. Adding this to my TBR!

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    1. I really think you would enjoy this one! I've heard great things about Kim Ji-young, Born 1982. Here's to more reading outside of our comfort zones!

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  6. I have thought about it, and now when you say it, yes that is a summer read. Sometimes I try to look for them, but it works best when they just kind of fall into my lap :)

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    1. That's the best way to find a summer read. I've added so many to my TBR this year!

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  7. I think blogger ate my comment, so let's see if I can remember what I said lol

    I'm guessing things didn't work out for the trip at sea if she is hiding in her closet now :-)

    And this does sound like a good summer read between the setting and the emotional impact.

    I've had the opposite problem with reading. I haven't been able to concentrate enough to get any reading done. But that seems to have changed this month.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Yeah this one definitely didn't have a happy ending. There's lots about dealing with grief and unexpected events.

      Don't feel too bad about not being able to focus. I think I have four books going right now for the same reason!

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  8. I follow my mood but agree this looks perfect for summer. I like the way the story was told.

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    1. Me too. I'm not too strict about what I consider a summer read, but I definitely enjoy reading for the season sometimes.

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  9. I love that something good has come out of the pandemic, more time to read and explore books you might not have picked up!

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    1. It is one of the best silver linings for sure!

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  10. Oh wow! This sounds really good. I don't really read any certain kind of book during the summer but this sounds like a wonderful story to kick back with on vacation. Great review!

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    1. Thanks! I think you would really enjoy this one!

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  11. high stakes action and family drama is always a winning combination. And, good for you committing to reading outside your zone for the summer.

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  12. For me, oddly enough, introspective or high emotional reads go best with a summer physical setting for me like when I'm sitting by a lake on a camping trip. Maybe the setting balances with the depth of the book for me. Oh, but yes, I can be swayed to grab an adventure story as well. :)

    This does sound like a good combo of both.

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    1. I think you'd enjoy both of those aspects with this one!

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  13. You totally captured my outlook on what a summer read is! I just finished Otto Digmore and I think that fits the genre summer read as well :)

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  14. I like emotional reads at times. This sounds good.

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  15. When I think of a summer read, I think of romance and beaches! Fairs and (vegan) hot dogs, haha. For example, I picked up HELLO, SUMMER by Mary Kay Andrews because it had a beach on its cover, and the blurb talked about summer love. What did I get? A MURDER MYSTERY. The story was great, very well-written, but NOT what I was expecting.

    I'm happy this one was such a hit for you! It sounds very thought-provoking. :)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. I've got Bad Summer set to read soon. That one seems to be everything I want in a summer read, so we'll see!

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  16. When i think of a summer read, i think of sunshine and bright colours and happy endings. After dark and dreary winter, it’s what i need to break out of a winter funk. This one sounds interesting in terms of characteristion — and I mean, on a bot with nowhere to go is the perfect setting for all sorts of things to come out.

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    1. I agree. Summer reads should be bright and the total opposite of the kind of books we read during the dreary winter months.

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  17. I'm not much of a 'summer reads' person, but that goes along with the content I find myself with most often - it's hard to make Plantagenet history light and cheery, with bright colors and lots of laughs, haha.

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  18. Your clothes would look nice on my bedroom floor. Hey, i am looking for an online sex partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)

    ReplyDelete

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