Air You Breathe
by Peebles, Frances De Pontes






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.





Frances de Pontes Peebles is the author of the novel The Seamstress, which was translated into nine languages and won the Elle Grand Prix for fiction, the Friends of American Writers Award, and the James Michener-Copernicus Society of America Fellowship. Born in Pernambuco, Brazil, she is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.





Dores and Graša grow up together on a sugar plantation in Brazil. Dores is a kitchen girl, and Graša 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. Graša, 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.





Samba music and its allure beats beneath this winding and sinuous tale of ambition, memory, and identity. The long road to musical stardom followed by the privileged Graça, a Brazilian woman from a wealthy family with stakes in the brutal sugar-cane industry, runs parallel to that taken by her childhood friend and rival, Dores, the child of a promiscuous local woman who was taken in at birth by the plantation's cook. Peebles (The Seamstress, 2008) traces the girls' growing attachment to each other—despite divisive class distinctions in early-20th-century Brazil—and their growing enchantment with the samba style of music they first heard on the plantation before their joint escape. Their extended sojourn in the gritty and hedonistic Lapa neighborhood of Rio exposes the girls to privations and degradations but also allows them to enter the world of music they both yearn to conquer. Differences in talent and temperament strain their relationship, but shared ambi tion propels them toward unlikely levels of fame and notoriety as Graça transforms into Sofia Salvador, an international samba star (whose life experiences may echo those of Carmen Miranda). Alliances, romances, and friendships made by the women over the courses of their lives shift and reform as the girls from the plantation pursue pop stardom. Questions of loyalty to family, culture, and self are not always resolved in a comfortable fashion, and the scarifying price for achieving one's dreams runs far beyond the girls' childhood imaginations. From the perspective of old age, Dores' recounting of the duo's experiences is steeped in melancholy but also alludes to the unreliability of memory (and the necessity of forgetting in order to survive). Peebles' detailed and atmospheric story is cinematic in scope, panoramic in view, and lyrical in tone. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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