cover image Sea Wife

Sea Wife

Amity Gaige. Knopf, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-65649-4

A marriage implodes and a husband dies due to the strain of a year sailing around the Caribbean, in Gaige’s splendid, wrenching novel (after Schroder). Michael Partlow, an unfulfilled businessman lured by visions of heroic self-sufficiency and idealized memories of his late father, proposes that he and his wife, Juliet—a stalled-out poetry PhD candidate and stay-at home mother—buy a boat, leave Connecticut, and spend a year sailing with their two young children. Despite Juliet’s misgivings and worries, she agrees and the family enters a new wandering lifestyle with moments of joy amid frightening storms, privations, and mounting financial costs. Eventually, the cramped life onboard drives Juliet and Michael into arguments fueled by Juliet’s depression and Michael’s support of President Trump, and Michael ends up dead from dengue fever. Five months after the end of the voyage, Juliet is mired in a deep depression and gains insight into her marriage by reading Michael’s journal, and the story takes a frantic turn when police arrive with questions about a missing person Michael owed money to. Gaige balances the piecemeal explanations of Michael’s involvement with a profound depiction of the weight of depression and the pains of a complicated relationship. Every element of this impressive novel clicks into a dazzling, heartbreaking whole. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (May)