REVIEW: Coming Up For Air, Sarah Leipciger #BLOGTOUR

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a heartbroken 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 1950s Norway, where a grieving toymaker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada, where a journalist battling a terrible disease, drowning in her own lungs, risks everything for one last chance to live.

Sarah Leipciger's Coming Up for Air is a sweeping historical epic: traversing time and space to bring forth one poignant thread of human experience - the act of drowning. Water sustains us, it constitutes us, it destroys us. We rely on it daily and yet, because of its endlessly unknown capacities, true understanding will probably be forever outside of our reach. And, in Coming Up for Air, Leipciger brings together three people, at once so disparate and so connected, that reveal just how deeply our relationship to it goes. 
The novel's three narratives are a marvel, each providing a richly textured look into three vastly different worlds (1890s Paris, 1950s Norway and present-day Canada). They're painted so vividly you can feel the heat, the flies, the snow; the whole novel sets the senses alight. And, it is only bit by bit, that these disparate environments are cemented as part of a globalised whole with Leipciger revealing the extent of the butterfly effect that three disparate people have had on the lives of one another. The entirety of the novel is a testament to this connectivity and a banishment to any feelings of isolation. Simply put: people are joined together by their relationship to the water and because of that, they can never be truly alone. And therefore, even despite its dark and desperate subject matter, Coming Up for Air's tone and overarching message ends up being a hopeful one. 

Thanks to Doubleday and Anne Cater for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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