Book Title:
In at the Deep End
Book Author:
Kate Davies
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
June 4th, 2019
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date Read:
August 29th, 2019
Kindle Edition


A deliciously disarming debut novel about a twenty-something Londoner who discovers that she may have been looking for love — and pleasure — in all the wrong places (i.e. from men).

Julia has had enough. Enough of the sex noises her roommate makes. Enough of her dead-end government job. Enough of the one-night stand who accused her of breaking his penis. The only thing she hasn’t had enough of is orgasms; she hasn’t had proper sex in three years.

So when Julia gets invited to a warehouse party in a part of town where trendy people who have lots of sex go on a Friday night, she readily accepts. And that night she meets someone: a conceptual artist, who also happens to be a woman.

Julia’s sexual awakening begins; her new lesbian life 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 unforgettable and audacious odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous path to love and self.

My Review


Let me start off by saying that In at the Deep End isn’t the type of book that I would usually pick up. I’m not sure why; I rarely read books that aren’t young adult, and if they aren’t young adult they tend to be thrillers or horror. So this was weird for me. I heard some interesting things about it, both good and bad, and the synopsis and cover kind of drew me in, so I bought it for Kindle during a sale.

In at the Deep End is…interesting. It touches on a lot of things, such as coming out, learning about yourself, and friendships. The friendship aspect of this book was probably my absolute favorite theme of the book. I loved how well the main character, Julia, got along with her best friend, Alice (with whom she also shared an apartment with). Their friendship felt so incredibly real, not forced at all. It was believable, which I liked. I do wish there would have been more of a background on how they became friends and what their relationship was like prior to the start of this story.

Another thing that is a big part of In at the Deep End is abusive relationships. As Julia tries to figure out who she is, including coming out as a lesbian, she encounters a woman named Sam. Sam, who is in love with another woman and expects Julia to be willing to share her with this other woman, is also interested in having intimate relations with other women, usually random women. She drags Julia to a bunch of adult-themed parties that push Julia out of her comfort zone, but since Julia is smitten with her, she agrees.

“Sometimes love and obsession are hard to tell apart, that’s all I’m saying.”

After that – things go downhill. Sam gets really obsessive and controlling toward Julia, even going as far to stop her from seeing her therapist and tell her who she can be friends with. She not only pushes Julia out of her comfort zone, she pushes Julia away, little by little, hurting her, verbally abusing her, and manipulating her.

I guess when I started reading this book I didn’t expect it to be so emotional and deep in terms of content. I highly recommend that anyone who reads this book is an adult, because there is a lot of…um…adult content? in here. It’s pretty raunchy at times, if I can be honest. There is a huge focus on S&M and very graphic sex scenes.

The character development in In at the Deep End was intense. So much changed between the beginning of the book and the end, with more than just Julia developing more as a character. Alice, Julia’s best friend and roommate, also grows as a person. The author does such an amazing job writing her characters, and for that, I adored this book. I fell in love with them from the instant I started reading.

That being said, it was a bit slow in the beginning. I enjoyed it, sure, but I honestly had a hard time getting into it during the first half of the book. Once I hit around 40%, though, I found myself really enjoying it, and I wasn’t able to put it down.

Would I recommend In at the Deep End? I’m honestly on the fence. Part of me wants to say that yes, I would recommend it for several reasons, including the huge take on friendships and the relationship between Julia and Sam; I felt like it added a lot to the novel and Julia’s character. The other part of me doesn’t think it was a must read, but everyone has different tastes, so if you’re curious about this one, pick it up and check it out.

3 stars
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3 Responses to In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

  1. I have this one on my TBR. Thanks for your review and insights!

  2. This one sounds like it would be intense. I like that the character development plays a big part. Great review!

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