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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Notable Book

"Sea Wife is a gripping tale of survival at sea - but that's just the beginning. Amity Gaige also manages, before she's done, to probe the underpinnings of romantic love, marriage, literary ambition, political inclinations in the Trump age, parenthood, and finally, the nature of survival itself in our broken world. Gaige is thrillingly talented, and her novel enchants." (Jennifer Egan)

"Sea Wife brilliantly breathes life not only into the perils of living at sea, but also into the fraught and hidden dangers of domesticity, motherhood, and marriage. What a smart, swift, and thrilling novel." (Lauren Groff)

From the highly acclaimed author of Schroder, a smart, sophisticated page literary pause resister about a young family who escape suburbia for a yearlong sailing trip that upends all of their lives.

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 44 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.

©2020 Amity Gaige (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Gripping.... A powerful take on a marriage on the rocks." (Kirkus Reviews)

"[A] splendid, wrenching novel.... Every element of this impressive novel clicks into a dazzling, heartbreaking whole." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

 "Sea Wife is a gripping tale of survival at sea - but that's just the beginning. Amity Gaige also manages, before she's done, to probe the underpinnings of romantic love, marriage, literary ambition, political inclinations in the Trump age, parenthood, and finally, the nature of survival itself in our broken world. Gaige is thrillingly talented, and her novel enchants." (Jennifer Egan) 

What listeners say about Sea Wife

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

The last fourth of the book rambled

The narration was good, but, the story did not wrap up tightly at all. It just rambled towards the end. And what’s the point of bringing in politics? Obviously the author is anti-Trump. It added nothing to the story at all. Pretty much a waste of time.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good story ruined by narrators

As much as I enjoyed this story, listening to it was torture. Adults doing baby-talk voices for the kids’ voices? Ugh. Better to read the book, I think.

The writing here is just fair, generally, but there are moments of real skill. Every so often the author tosses off a memorable sentence, or catches perfectly the small but deadly resentments of a marriage. There’s a fair amount of foreshadowing, which can be annoying. All considered, though, this is a worthwhile book...to read.

6 people found this helpful

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Great book

I enjoyed this book a lot I only have one question? When recording this book who’s dumb idea was it to use a tiny infant cry for a 3 year old ? Just sayin !

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing ending

The story started quite well, and I was really invested in the story while the Bartlow family was at sea. Then the author started to go off-track, and the narrative lost its flow and dynamics. It ended in a hot mess. Too bad, it could have been better.

5 people found this helpful

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Perfect Fall Book for the End Times

Covid! Trump! Patriarchy! White Supremacy! Apocalypse! Winter! Endless laundry! Want an escape? But a literary-ish one? This book is for you. It will whisk you away to the middle of an ocean adventure while keeping you grounded to the realities of politics, gender roles, and chaotic family life. It makes sense that Jennifer Eagan and Lauren Groff blurbed the book. I can totally see this book being friends with their books. I think I really loved this book. The only reason I didn't rate it higher was that it was just a little too delightful and decadent—and I am a literary masochist, I guess. I heard about it from the New York Times Book Review Podcast and I quite happy for the recommendation.

4 people found this helpful

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Should have ended earlier...

First 3/4, riveting. Last quarter, lyrical and thought provoking, but not necessary. Beautiful imagery.

2 people found this helpful

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Structure ruins the whole

By the time you get half way through this lyrical, immersive experience you’ll wonder just how much more navel gazing you can take on the way to the ending that’s already been given away.

The idea of this novel, the sound and feel of it, the way it creates suspense in the beginning, is wonderful. Then the keel runs aground and you’ll be praying that this isn’t all there is…this half drama in what could have been a full drama.

But it came close to being a spectacular novel, if only the structure didn’t doom the plot. Oh well, it will take you to paradise and then just sort of pull you under, just to be rubbed on the stony bottom that you always knew was there.


1 person found this helpful

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Great read

I really enjoyed this! The narration was great. The story was interesting and the author is a great writer.

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Ending ruined it

The ending dragged on for way too long. Maybe while actually reading it, it makes sense, but while listening, the poetry at the end was confusing. I kept rewinding thinking I missed something. Book should have ended earlier than it did. I saw 2 recommendations for this book, one by Elin Hilderbrand and the other by a family who actually lives full time on a boat with their children, so I figured it had to be great! Maybe they book enjoyed the book more because both read the book instead of listened to it. Either way, I enjoyed the book but it's not a book I will listen to again.

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Treat performance but lacking story

I linked the narration and the idea of the story. However basically not much happens in the book and i saw no transformation of the character.