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Julia Armfield Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Our Wives Under the Sea (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Salt Slow (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Julia Armfield is an English author of literary fiction books and an occasional playwright. Born in London in 1990 she graduated with a master’s degree in Victorian Art and Literature from Royal Holloway University. The author has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the year in 2019.

Julia was commended in the Moth Short Story Prize in 2017 and longlisted for Deborah Rogers Award in 2018. She later won the White Revie short story prize in 2018 and Pushcart Prize in 2020. Her work appeared in Neon Magazine, the Stockholm Review and Lighthouse Analog Magazine.

Our Wives Under the Sea

Miri thought she got her wife back when Leah returned from a deep-sea mission that led to tragedy. Her wife is a marine biologist on an exploratory submarine mission that was supposed to take three weeks turned into a mysterious disaster with no communication from the Centre for months. Soon it appears that even though Leah returned as a whole, she is no longer the same.

Whatever happened in that sea vessel they were supposed to be learning before getting stranded on the ocean floor, Leah carried a part of it home with her. Miri has lots of questions that Leah’s employer fails to answer.

Moving on with what may appear like a normal life, Miri finally comes to accept that their life with her wife might never return. Even though Leah is still present, Miri still feels that the woman she fell in love with is slipping from her hand as things get out of control.

Miri and Leah start living in the same flat but in different spaces as Miri eats alone in the kitchen and spends the night in the spare bedroom. Leah spends most of the time locked in the bathroom with both taps running water. She doesn’t eat; she only craves a high amount of salted water.

The novel slowly changes the reader’s emotions through increasing tension and terror. It’s narrated from Miri and Leah’s perspectives as both tell Leah’s traumatic submarine accident that left her a slowly changing person from the one she was before.

Some sections of the story also tell their relationship, contrasting the current absent Leah of the current time as Miri becomes the caregiver. Julia Armfield dives deeper into the waves of loss while exploring the void of absence as the story is a motivation for grief and what it really means to love someone.

She has weaved the story in a way that the reader will find themselves shedding tears as they get into the shadowy depths of the story. It’s an emotional interrogation with a horror setting and a preference for grief.

As tension increases with everything going on underground, Armfield executes it in amazing prose. The story opens up after Leah’s return after half a year’s absence, stuck in a sunken submarine.
Most of the novel is spent looking back on the Leah of the past and her present, which appears like a disintegrating shell devoid of the Leah everyone once knew. The memories tease the reader into thinking that everything can work before reality if a person beyond the best memories reminds them why it didn’t happen in the first place.

The story examines how difficult it is for one to convey the impression of romantic interest to another person, not seeing them through your eyes.

Amidst all the horrors and Leah’s retelling of what happened underneath the ocean, brief passages lead to a fever pitch of trauma and confusion, the author a moving portrait of relationships. The loss of Leah, even though she’s physically present, is compared to Miri’s loss of her mother to degenerative disease as the author shows both situations to have similarities while highlighting their individualities.
During Miri’s months of not knowing where Leah is, she discovers an online group that acts as a support group for people with partners that have been lost in space on long voyages. Armfield shows the extent to which people will go while examining loss and lack.

The author reminds the reader that it’s a universal feeling that most people hide from the public or friends, thinking it’s shameful. She further states that healing often comes when people share their grief together.

The book is well researched, evident in the ocean facts and the language used on the idea of diving deep into the sea. Armfield discusses why the ocean is such a perfect setting for this story, as the ocean itself acts as a character full of mystery and dread.

She allows the horror to seep into readers’ thoughts, making them question their interpretations—the story switches between Miri’s point of view and that of her wife, Leah.
Salt Slow
The novel is a collection of stories featuring women and everything they experience in society about bodies, mapping the skin and bones through isolation, love and obsession.

Throughout the stories, women change to insects, men into stones, and bodies are res to make improved ones. The stories are rooted in the mundane, but Armfield introduces the details that lift the stories from daily humdrum scenarios to the unusual and weird.

Each of the nine stories is unique and memorable as women are determined to create the perfect man. The scope and imagination that the author demonstrates in the stories is amazing.
The stories explore the themes of the female body, adolescence, love and change while balancing the gaps between reality and imagination. Julia has a beautiful way of with her words and imagery where she turns upside down and inside out.

Salt Slow is a collection about problem women who are simply too much; too dependent, too obsessive, too selfish, and greedy. They are problem women because they are unruly and what’s so amazing about the novels is that instead of trying to temper the unruliness of its women, they lean into it, even celebrating it.

Julia Armfield’s work is magnificent, dark, beautiful and haunting. The collection is about unruly women who defy the rules of reality and are messy, ugly and feral. The women are violent, long for the worst and howl at the moon.

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