Sea Wife by Amity Gaige
A super-exciting story about a couple with two young children who go away to sea on a sailboat. You know from page 1 that things come to a bad end. The story is mainly told back-and-forth between Juliet’s hindsight perspective and Michael’s daily log entries. The bold print and indentation for Michael’s entries makes it clear who’s speaking; but even so, the switching could be very rapid, and it sometimes took a slight effort to reposition one’s mind into the right character at the right time.
I don’t know anything about boats and I do terrible at following action sequences under the best of circumstances; so in a lot of the most gripping moments, I could only skim helplessly in a “jib mainsail yada yada halyard keep yada yada” kind of way; and yet the book still delivered a 4-star experience for me.
The plot: with lots and lots of foreboding, we follow the family’s story from the different perspectives, wondering exactly how things will go south. Not only do we know there’s going to be a death: we soon have the possibility of foul play mixed in.
The conclusion: very satisfying.
The characters: While Juliet had many annoying traits – tendencies toward martyrdom, self-pity, self-absorption, and wanting to be a poet for Pete’s sake – it was OK, because I didn’t feel I was necessarily supposed to like her, not all the time. Michael in his personal log betrays an idealistic libertarian streak, but never goes off the nutso deep end – then again, he did take his whole young family away to Central America to live on a sailboat for a year, so what am I saying? Sybil, the 7-year-old is really charming – I don’t think I’ve ever come across a more likeable child in a modern novel before, not one who gets this much screen time. She never seems to get bratty. In fact, towards the end, I started to wonder – why does this kid never get bratty; is that realistic? George, the 2-year-old – also well played.
Rhetorical question: why do female protagonists in modern novels always have to be gorgeous? Can’t we have someone who’s a little dumpy-looking after having two children?
Addendum: I own this book in hardcover and am happy to lend.