The air you breathe

Frances de Pontes Peebles

Book - 2018

"The story of an intense female friendship fueled by admiration and affection, envy and pride -- and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other" --

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FICTION/Peebles, Frances
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Subjects
Genres
Psychological fiction
Historical fiction
Novels
Published
New York : Riverhead Books 2018.
Language
English
Physical Description
449 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780735210998
0735210993
Main Author
Frances de Pontes Peebles (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Dores and Graça grow up together on a sugar plantation in Brazil. Dores is a kitchen girl, and Graça is the pampered daughter of the house, but they are bound together by music. Many years later, Dores looks back over the path their love of music took them on, from the cane fields to 1940s Hollywood. Dreaming of singing careers, they run away to the Lapa District of Rio, where they eventually become part of a samba group called Sofia Salvador and the Blue Moon Band. Graça, the more talented singer, is Sofia Salvador; Dores writes the songs, along with band leader Vinicius, and also acts as general manager. Success in Rio is their ticket to Hollywood and a string of movie musicals. Sofia finds fame as the Brazilian Bombshell, but success comes at a cost. De Pontes Peebles (The Seamstress, 2008) does a marvelous job of evoking the world of samba, which forms the backdrop to the complicated relationship the two women share. Readers who are not daunted by the novel's length will be rewarded with complex characters and a well-realized setting. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Having hooked readers with her award-winning debut, The Seamstress, Peebles returns with a story set in her native Brazil. In the 1930s, two girls—have-it-all Graça, the daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, and orphaned kitchen maid Dores—bond over a love of music and end up traveling together to Rio de Janeiro and finally Golden Age Hollywood in a quest for stardom. Big in-house excitement. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Peebles (The Seamstress) presents a captivating if occasionally overstuffed portrait of friendship. Both born in Brazil in 1920, Dores and Graca are from different stations and have different gifts: Dores is an intensely intelligent and ambitious orphan who works as a servant on a sugar plantation; Graca is the plantation owner's charismatic and beautiful daughter, who has a remarkable singing voice. After forming a bond over music, the two girls begin to write samba songs together and form a successful partnership. But their relationship is fraught with jealousy and frustration and eventually fractures. The book is narrated from the present day, with Dores's recollections conveying the increasingly complex nature of the friendship as they pursued fame: codependency, mutual envy, their love for the same man, and (eventually) the revelation of Dores' unrequited love for Graca. This structure allows for a wealth of detail, but the action often slows to a plodding pace, and Peebles is prone to prosaic explanations of the characters' evolving relationship. Despite this, Dores's reflections on love, music, envy, and loyalty ache with feeling, and a hint of mystery surrounding the central relationship's dissolution will keeps readers intrigued until the end. (Aug.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An orphaned kitchen maid and the reckless daughter of a sugar baron embark on a volatile friendship marked by their ambitions to escape, their changing fortunes and unexpected fame. By the award-winning author of The Seamstress.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In 1930s Brazil, an orphaned kitchen maid and the reckless daughter of a sugar baron bond over their shared passion for music and embark on a volatile friendship marked by their ambitions to escape, their changing fortunes, and unexpected fame.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"The story of an intense female friendship fueled by admiration and affection, envy and pride -- and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other" --

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"[A] glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss... I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.)." --NPR"Echoes of Elena Ferrante resound in this sumptuous saga."--O, The Oprah Magazine"Enveloping...Peebles understands the shifting currents of female friendship, and she writes so vividly about samba that you close the book certain its heroine's voices must exist beyond the page." -PeopleThe story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride--and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other.Some friendships, like romance, have the feeling of fate.Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music. One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes--and haunt their memories.Traveling from Brazil's inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Rio de Janeiro's famous Lapa neighborhood, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship--its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses--and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.