A fresh, funny, audacious debut novel about a Bridget Jones–like twenty-something who discovers that she may have simply been looking for love — and, ahem, pleasure — in all the wrong places (aka: from men)
Julia hasn’t had sex in three years. Her roommate has a boyfriend—and their sex noises are audible through the walls, maybe even throughout the neighborhood. Not to mention, she’s treading water in a dead-end job, her know-it-all therapist gives her advice she doesn’t ask for, and the men she is surrounded by are, to be polite, subpar. Enough is enough.
So when Julia gets invited to a warehouse party in a part of town where “trendy people who have lots of sex might go on a Friday night”—she readily accepts. Whom she meets there, however, is surprising: a conceptual artist, also a woman.
Julia’s sexual awakening begins; her new lesbian life, as she coins it, is exhilarating. She finds her tribe at queer swing dancing classes, and guided by her new lover Sam, she soon discovers London’s gay bars and BDSM clubs, and . . . the complexities of polyamory. Soon it becomes clear that Sam needs to call the shots, and Julia’s newfound liberation comes to bear a suspicious resemblance to entrapment . . .
In at the Deep End is an unforgettably frank, funny, and racy odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous—and more often, absurd—path to love and self.
Davies's not-quite-romantic debut showcases a good sense of comedic pacing, but undermines itself with a judgmental, distancing attitude and an unwillingness to lean into either a happy ending or a zanily catastrophic one. Three years into a sexual dry spell, civil servant Julia accepts an invitation to accompany the couple she lives with to a party. There, she has one last terrible hookup with a man, and then, after a single romantic encounter with a woman, dives into a lesbian identity. She soon meets Sam, a butch painter whose connection to the underground scene appeals to Julia, but their relationship is stressed by Julia's discomfort with Sam's penchant for BDSM, sex clubs, and nonmonogamy, particularly her ongoing involvement with her married French girlfriend, Virginie. Secondary characters, such as Julia's work buddies, her thoughtless "semi-amateur" therapist, and her parents, are mostly substanceless. Unquestioned, introspection-free positivity around Julia's instant lesbianism is coupled with strong negativity about well-negotiated polyamory, and the story arc ties nonmonogamy tightly to Sam's abusive behavior and the collapse of Sam and Julia's relationship. This story may arouse and amuse straight and monogamous readers looking for a window onto other lives, but queer and polyamorous readers are likely to be deeply unimpressed.