IN AT THE DEEP END by Kate Davies


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In Davies’ exceedingly charming debut, a romantically frustrated 20-something Londoner realizes maybe the problem isn’t her—maybe the problem is men.

It’s been three years since Julia has had sex herself, although she is frequently privy to sex—adjacent to sex, subjected to sex—living with her best friend, Alice, and Alice’s boyfriend in a flat with unfortunately thin walls. But her own sex life has been, to date, lackluster. “I’d always preferred the idea of sex to sex itself,” she muses. “The thing is, sex had never been particularly high on my list of priorities.” Dance had been her priority, but then she was injured, and so, instead of the ballet career she’d dreamed of, she has an uninspiring government job, a very opinionated therapist, and a total lack of romantic intrigue. Until, at a cool warehouse party, she meets Jane. Sex is different with Jane; everything is different with Jane. Julia is overcome with ecstatic relief: She’s a lesbian. “I felt like I belonged, at last, in the world of the sexually fulfilled,” she declares. “Now I had a sense of purpose. I was going to find someone to be a lesbian with.” And quickly, she does—not one of the women from her new queer swing-dance group (she immediately joins a queer swing-dance group), but Sam, an artist she meets at a club. But as their relationship intensifies, Sam’s one-sided demands start to feel increasingly stifling—leaving Julia to define the kind of relationship she wants for herself. Davies recounts the progression of Julia and Sam’s relationship in such detail, and with such focus, that it’s occasionally exhausting, like listening to a friend obsess over the plodding minutiae of a fundamentally doomed relationship for years. (And who among us has not?) But Davies’ writing is so breezy and effortless—and her characters so delightful—that to spend time in her world is a pleasure.

Sweet but never saccharine; a literary rom-com about the importance of knowing yourself.

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-328-62967-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2019


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