• Abi Prowse

Dive In: 5 Powerful Novels about the Ocean

To bibliophiles like me, summer is the season of reading. Whether you’re perched in your favourite garden deck chair with a beer or stretched out languidly on a sand-speckled beach towel, you’ll want a good book to hand. And what better place to draw inspiration than the ocean itself?

These 5 books are all odes to the ocean, each with its own marked style and narrative voice. From fantastical and dark to bright and hopeful, take a look at 5 powerful novels about the ocean to pack in your carry-on this summer.

Our Wives Under the Sea

By Julia Armfield

Released just a few months ago, Our Wives Under the Sea is the debut novel from acclaimed writer Julia Armfield. When Miri’s marine biologist wife Leah returns from an under-sea expedition gone wrong, something has changed. The woman she’s living with is not the woman she married all those years ago, and Miri has no idea how to fix their relationship. A hauntingly beautiful novel about relationships and love, Our Wives Under the Sea will leave you wondering what on earth happened in that submarine until the very last page.

The Gracekeepers

By Kirsty Logan | @kirstylogan

Although The Gracekeepers is by no means a new release, it’s a novel I’ve come back to time and time again over the years. Marrying the fantastical with the heartfelt, and inspired by Scottish folklore, the novel tells the story of two women searching for somewhere to call home. North is part of the floating circus, and travels across the ocean performing with a crew of talented misfits; Callendish lives alone in the middle of the sea. A storm brings the two women together – but North’s secret threatens to break them apart.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

By TJ Klune | @tjklunebooks

Cited as a ‘modern fairytale’, The House in the Cerulean Sea is a whimsical, quirky meditation on acceptance, belonging, and family. Social worker Linus Baker is a regular man with an extremely regular life. So when his workplace send him to an orphanage perched on a high cliff to determine whether or not six children with magical powers could potentially bring about the end of the world, it’s safe to say that his life is somewhat altered. But these children will teach him an important lesson about love and patience – as will their guardian, Arthur.

Malibu Rising

By Taylor Jenkins Reid | @tjenkinsreid

A book that I never fail to recommend, Malibu Rising is celebrated novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid’s most recent release. Set on the wild cliffside of the Malibu coast, the novel follows the lives of 4 siblings each swept up in some way in the tide of fame. One summer evening in 1983, Nina decides to throw a lavish party in her beachfront mansion – but the lives of all characters are so tightly woven that something was bound to unravel.

The Mercies

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave | @kiran_mh

Set in the farthest throes of Arctic Norway in the 1600s, The Mercies begins with a freak storm which kills almost all men on the island of Vardø. Maren is a young woman who loses both her father and her brother, and is one of the first groups of women to head out to sea as fishermen to keep the island alive. When a lensman arrives from southern Norway to help ‘oversee’ this community of strong, independent women, he brings his young bride Ursa, and the two women quickly learn to lean on each other when their village is torn apart.


Looking for more recommendations? Spring Book Stack: 4 Novels to Celebrate the Sunshine

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