My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 3 days
Pages - 320
Publisher - Double day
Source - Review copy
Blurb from Goodreads
Three extraordinary lives intertwine across oceans and centuries.
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.
Moving effortlessly across time and space and taking inspiration from an incredible true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about love, loss, and the immeasurable impact of every human life.
We open in 1899, the narrator is about to commit suicide by taking herself a plunge into the river Seine. We hit the 1950s where a toymaker is about to make a huge breakthrough/invention and then our third character, present day in Canada has cystic fibrosis, struggles to breath and is about to embark on a life changing decision.
This book is loved by so many and whilst some of it is very emotive it is also quite stark, dark and i struggles to follow the three different stories/narratives/jumps. I would get into first person's story and start to settle then jump to the toy maker or the kid with the bad lungs who we also visit in present day.
There was a few scenes of animal cruelty that I really really struggled with and one I really don't think it brought anything or relevance to the story. I read horror/crime and all manners of books but I really struggle with animal stuff and when it pops up and seems (to me anyway) to have nothing to add to the story it really impacts how I get on with the rest of it. The mice thing ok I can see a link to what happened, the deer just no, unless it was to highlight the way the man/woman take control of X situation, well she does - he doesn't. Still I really really struggled with it.
That said other parts of the story are really engaging and or shocking/emotive but again so so much of it goes quite dark (it does open with a suicide) so I went back and forth on a 2.5 or 3 star rating. In the end I went with 3, I didn't find it easy reading for most of it but it does engage and I had no idea where it was going. I am absolutely in the minority, so many people loved this book so I totally recommend it but caution to prep yourself for two graphic animal abuse scenes and some really macabre themes. I love gabbing about books that make you feel like this or think about them, I think it would be a belter of a book for a book club discussion/debate so if you have read it please let me know what you thought!
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