Monday, November 5, 2007

The Air We Breathe


I was lucky enough to win a copy of Andrea Barrett's The Air We Breathe from Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. This novel takes place in upstate New York in 1916 in a village called Tamarack Lake - a place primarily populated by sufferers of tuberculosis. The wealthy stay in private cute cottages, the less fortunate are wards of the state and thus live in the public sanatorium. There is a war going on across the ocean and the residents of this community wonder and wait to find out if the United States will become involved. Barrett takes her time with this story, introducing us to each character in turn, so that the reader might get to know each one as an individual - how they came to be in this place, and their hopes and dreams. Leo Marberg is the main character in this tale, a young Russian immigrant who speaks multiple languages and was trained as a chemist in the old country; he has not yet fulfilled his dreams in this new world. Eudora and Naomi are girls from the village with differing ideas of how to get what they want from this life. Miles Fairchild is a wealthy owner of a concrete company as well as a patient; he tries to use his time productively. This is the story of how these people and others become entwined in one another's lives, of the love quadrangle that results, and ultimately the disaster that occurs.

I really, really enjoyed reading this book. I thought Andrea Barrett's characterization was brilliant, I felt as thought I knew each person in the story. She uses a unique perspective in telling this story - it is told in the collective "We" and represents the other patients at the sanatorium, the ones not directly involved in the action. I particularly enjoyed learning about early x-ray technology as well as how tuberculosis was treated in these times with no appropriate medications. Overall, I would recommend this book. I understand that there are characters in this book that have also appeared in her other books so this might be of particular interest to those who have read Barrett's other work.

In other news.....I saw flurries when I was out driving a little bit ago. Snow flurries! Eeek!

Also...Lotus has been kind enough to give me a lovely award, the Schmooze award.



This award is for the bloggers who “effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”


I would like to pass this award on to the following people - and as always - no need to do anything. Pass it on if you wish, or just enjoy - it's up to you.

Karen
Nan
Iliana
Geranium Cat
Gentle Reader

I'd like to give it to all of you who've welcomed me so kindly here and made me feel at home.

Of course I give this award in particular to Lotus, who completely epitomizes the meaning of the Schmooze award, in my opinion.

13 comments:

Lisa said...

I'm so jealous. I signed up for this book on LibraryThing but didn't get it. It really sounds good. Did you see that the November books are available for request? There are more available for November than usual. Maybe I'll get one this month. Thanks for the review. I think this is one I'd really like to read.

Tara said...

Hi Lisa, I'm sorry you haven't received a book yet. Believe me, I was very surprised to get one myself! I did see the November books are posted and there are quite a few that sound good - better luck to you this time around. I hope everyone gets a chance.

Nan - said...

I love the sound of this book. I've always fancied time in a sanitarium (sanatorium) or a convent.
All that green grass and people waiting on one, or meditating or growing vegetables. :<) I'm going to save your review in my email folder of books I want to read.

And I saw flurries for about two minutes today and was so delighted!

And thank you for the award. I really do spend time at new (to me) blogs. I love the words of this award, and it means so much to me that you offered it my way. This blogging world has enriched my life immeasurably, and I plan to write about it later this month on the one year anniversary.

Eva said...

Sounds like a neat book! I've heard good things about this author (at least, I think I have). :)

Snow flurries...we had our first snow on October 20! We're in the mountains though. And it disappeared quickly. :) Hope the weather warms up again. ;)

Tara said...

Nan, it does sound relaxing, doesn't it. Sadly, the patients in this sanatorium were NOT ALLOWED TO READ (or do anything) for some time upon their arrival. It sounded horrifying.
You are welcome for the award. I do see your name 'around town' (I must be following you). My one year anniversary is coming up as well soon.


Eva, yes I had heard good things about Barrett as well, I'm glad I read her. Our flurries didn't stick around for long either...but winter is certainly in the air.

Cath said...

You thoroughly deserve your award, Tara. :-)

Tara said...

Thanks, Cath ;-)

Bookgirl said...

Aww Lotus is a sweetie and so are you! A very well deserved award and of course thank you for passing it on to me. Made me smile :)

This book sounds fantastic. I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list.

Tara said...

Bookgirl, you are welcome, and you are so deserving of it!

Karen said...

Thankyou so much for that great award, Tara!

Danielle said...

I have this book on my pile to read. I like Andrea Barrett's work and this one sounds very appealing! I am swearing off trying to win any LT Early Review books for a while. I have two (one arrived very, very late) still to read. I feel guilty that I've gotten a few books now and others haven't won any, so I will work on getting caught up on the books I already have. Their new batch is posted, so I will stay away so I am not tempted! :)

Tara said...

Karen, you are most welcome!

Danielle, I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one particularly since you've read Barrett's other work...I'd like to know which characters in this book are connected to her other books. There are lots of good things on the LT list so you are right - you'd best stay away if you don't want to be tempted! ;-)

GeraniumCat said...

Just catching up after being in London all week. I was thinking what a nice award and that you richly deserve it, and then I saw you'd passed it on to me! Thank you very much, I shall try to live up to it.

I liked the sound of the book, too. Shall look out for it.