Coming Up For Air
by Sarah Leipciger
“On the banks of the Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950’s Norway where a grieving toymaker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Ottowa Valley, in Canada, where a journalist battling a terrible disease risks everything for one last chance to live.
Taking inspiration from a remarkable true story, “Coming Up For Air” is a bold, richly imagined novel about the transcendent power of storytelling and the immeasurable impact of every human life. The legacy of the woman at its heart touches the lives of us all today, and this book reveals just how."
What you’ve just read is the back cover from the book, “Coming Up For Air”.a novel I recently completed reading and thoroughly enjoyed. Actually, I more than thoroughly enjoyed it...it was an absolutely stunning piece of literature, The writing is smart, intriguing and touching. It can also be extremely disturbing, (SPOILER ALERT!) as is the case in the sadly detailed writing of the death of a deer. The stories told draw the reader in with a breathtaking talent for putting you into the character's time, place and life at any given moment. I felt an instant connection to the first character introduced, L’Inconnue (The Unknown Woman), whose story starts in Paris, France in 1899, even though our lives are lived worlds away and lifetimes apart, and other than the empathy I felt for her, we have nothing much in common. The writer gives voice to her in the most remarkable way.
We then meet Pieter, living in Norway in 1921, and Anouk, living in Canada in 2017. Though these lives are also being led miles and years apart, it’s fascinating to read through the book and see how, by deftly weaving their stories with that of L’Inconnue, their lives will intertwine in a tragic, beautiful, dynamic, life-changing way. As much as I'd love to elaborate on that, the author reveals it with such skill that I dare not spoil it...so do not read ahead!
“Glittering. Ambitiously imagined and richly woven. A triumph.” - Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
“Vivid and evocative...a book about tragedy, love and ultimately hope.” - Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange
“A beautiful and moving novel with an interesting cast. Leipciger weaves back and forth seamlessly - and suspensefully - among them. The ending is as unexpected as it is satisfying.” - Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice
Without lecturing, the story highlights how each human life can contribute something for the rest of us, a lesson we probably need to be reminded of now more than ever. Find a comfy chair, pour a cup of tea, and settle in for a good read. I highly recommend “Coming Up For Air”.