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  • Submitted: 16th March 2020

Coming up for Air in Paris, Norway and Canada

Sometimes there is a book which comes along and moves you to such an extent that you can’t write a review for weeks afterwards. Nothing you say can do this book justice. What do you say about a book that has made you cry, identify with the characters as if they’re confiding in you and feel the author has somehow seen inside your soul?

A book that is also poetic, melancholic, lyrical and which weaves its magic from the first page to the last…………..

BookTrail Travel to the locations in Coming Up for Air

 Setting: Paris, Norway and Canada

BookTrail Travel to the locations in Coming Up for Air



There’s not a book for a while that has moved me quite as much as this one. A book about drowning, needing to breath yet finding you can’t, a story of surviving and existing rather than living.

It starts with the most stark image of all – a woman who drowns on the banks of the Thames. Little do they know, but so many lives will be affected by this act and this woman, and what happens next. Stories told from  1899, 1950’s and to the present day.

For what happened next is based on a real story. L’Inconnue de la Seine.- the unknown woman of the Seine – a woman who found the need to kill herself, and in this manner, but who was considered so beautiful in death that the authorities created a death mask modelled on her face. Many years later it went on to become the face for the resuscitation mannequin named Resuscitation. I love a story with a real history link and this was brilliantly chosen and intertwined.

BookTrail Travel to the locations in Coming Up for Air

In this compelling story however, Annie lives and is given a voice. Her story weaves with that of Norwegian toy maker Pieter Akrehamn. He is the main who makes the first model of  the resuscitation model. He lives a hard life and lives by the river which controls his everyday existence. Tragedy strikes which will have lasting consequences

Then we meet Anouk, a Canadian journalist who lives in the present day (well the 1980s, but almost) She is hoping for a transplant and so again is existing rather than living. She has CF so her lungs fill with fluid so she is effectively drowning too. A struggle to live and survive..

What a moving and insightful novel this is. A story about mortality and death is never going to be easy but this one had me shaking as I read. Suicide, death, preparing for death and struggling to survive….all themes were so insightful and it was as if the characters were speaking to me personally. I wanted to hug them, share their pain and Annie, oh Annie, I was in turmoil with what she did but more with what she achieved even in death.

The water and drowning theme were apt and poetic. I drowned in this book. I couldn’t read anything else after reading this. It hurt, it lingered and it’s still with me now.

BookTrail Travel to the locations in Coming Up for Air



Postcard details:  Access The BookTrail’s Map of Locations and travel guide here

More books set in Paris

Novels set in Norway

Stories set in Canada


BookTrail Boarding Pass: Coming up for Air

Twitter:  @SarahLeipciger

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