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The Air You Breathe: A Novel
by Frances de Pontes Peebles

Published: 2018-08-21
Hardcover : 464 pages
14 members reading this now
9 clubs reading this now
1 member has read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
"[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 ...
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Introduction

"[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." -People

The 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.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of August 2018: A deep, complicated love between two very different women lies at the heart of Frances De Pontes Peebles’ new novel, The Air You Breathe. Dores and Graça grow up on the same sugar-cane plantation in Northern Brazil, but while Dores is the plain but clever daughter of a lowly worker, Graça is the spoiled, lovely daughter of the house, who demands that Dores become her playmate and accomplice. Their unequal friendship continues as the girls’ passion for samba takes them to Rio and eventually, Los Angeles, where Graça’s voice and Dores’s songs bring them international fame – for a time. Peebles’s story, inspired in part by the lives of Carmen Miranda and lesbian songwriter Chavela Vargas, lightly traces the history of Brazil from the 1930s to the 1950s as well as Hollywood’s prevailing attitudes toward foreign (and female) artists. Her sensitive, poetic writing evokes Brazil’s rough beauty and the sensual lure of the music that shapes Dores and Graça’s lives. This is a gorgeous, immersive novel about a bond so strong that it “is like air – you can forget it exists, and that it is essential to your life.” --Sarah Harrison Smith, Amazon Book Review

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  "Beautiful"by lpollinger (see profile) 01/21/19

This is the story of two girls growing up together on a failing sugar plantation in Brazil. One is the daughter of the owner, the other the orphan of an unwed mother. The story follows their lives from... (read more)

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