Meine Filiale

Peebles, F: Air You Breathe

A Novel

Frances de Pontes Peebles

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"[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.

"[A] glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss...Along the way [the two main characters] acquire... total interconnectedness, the likes of which I last found in Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend... I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.) ...The Air You Breathe is genuinely exciting to watch." -NPR

"Gorgeous ... Peebles captures the complexity of these two women forever linked by their early bonds, and she vivifies their colorful times and the nuances in their relationship as it evolves over the decades." -The National Book Review

"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

"Frances de Pontes Peebles captures the profound complexity of female friendships." -Business Insider

"We love, love, love novels centered on female friendship-especially a complicated one like this."-HelloGiggles

"Frances de Pontes Peebles' atmospheric second novel tracks a rich and volatile friendship through Brazil's sugar plantations, lively Rio streets, and beyond." -Shondaland

"An absolute masterpiece...beautifully rendered...THE AIR YOU BREATHE manages to weave together the delicious tales of interpersonal relationships with the art of music making, while never losing sight of its reader/audience...Peebles is a master at sustaining dramatic tension, a wizard with intrigue and language, and a skilled curator of intimacy...Even more challenging is the ability to be able to create unapologetic antiheroes, which Peebles excels at...The tension created by these elements-the sociopolitical context, the drama of interpersonal relationships and queerness, and the high-stakes nature of subsisting off art-make a masterful book, sure to enthrall from beginning to end." -Lambda Literary

"Echoes of Elena Ferrante resound in this sumptuous saga."-O, The Oprah Magazine

"The Air You Breathe is a beautiful, luscious ode to the lasting friendships that shape our lives." -BookRiot

"While The Air You Breathe is a brilliant portrayal of female friendship, equally brilliant are Peebles' descriptions of the soulful step-by-step rhythm of whipped-up samba musicians, the dank back rooms & makeshift stages of boozy clubs in Rio, how the world magically retreats when a bedazzled singer steps into view, erupting in song, and finally the celluloid seduction of Hollywood studios. This is a remarkable and deeply felt tale of the price of ambition and fame." -KMUW

"I loved getting to know Graça and Dores, two brave young women who leave the lives they were given behind in pursuit of the lives they desire. This novel has countless nuggets of wisdom that sneak up on you at the perfect moment...You'll love this story of a lifelong friendship-and like me, you might find yourself looking back at the songs or people that first shaped you." - Diane Guerrero, author of In the Country We Love, starred in the hit series Orange is the New Black.

"A poor orphan and a wealthy heiress whose roller-coaster friendship is a welcome reminder that time can make any relationship stronger."-Glamour

"If you like your fictional friendships cinematically devoted and rocky, Frances de Pontes Peebles's The Air You Breathe is gold." -Redbook

"A haunting, poetic novel about friendship, love, and longing, tinged with golden age glamour. A perfect fit for any general fiction collection." -Library Journal, starred review

"Beautifully written and structured. ... The Air You Breathe is a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship, with many lows, and it shows how friendship shapes our lives and what we owe to it. This is one of those novels you find hard to put down without finishing." -The Washington Book Review

"The book practically moves in your hand; it is so musical in story and in prose. It's a joy to read and the original lyrics could easily be mistaken for classic s

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.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 464
Erscheinungsdatum 21.08.2018
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-525-54023-6
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 22.8/15.4/3.5 cm
Gewicht 546 g


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  • Time is short and the water is rising.

    This is what one of Sofia Salvador's directors-I can't recall his name-used to shout before he'd start filming. Each time he said it, I imagined all of us in a fishbowl, our hands sliding frantically along the glass sides as water crept above our necks, our noses, our eyes.

    I fall asleep listening to our old records and wake with my mouth dry, my tongue as rough as a cat's. I pull the handle of my La‑Z‑Boy and, with a jolt, am sitting upright. A pile of photos rests in my lap.

    I own the most famous photograph of Sofia Salvador-the Brazilian Bombshell, the Fruity Cutie Girl, the fast‑talking, eye‑popping nymph with her glittering costumes and pixie‑cut hair who, depending on your age and nationality, is either a joke, an icon of camp, a victim, a traitor, a great innovator, or even, as one researcher anointed her, "an object of serious study of Hollywood's Latinas." (Is that what they're calling us now?) I bought the original photo and its negative at auction, paying much more than they were worth. Money isn't an issue for me these days; I'm filthy rich and am not ashamed to say so. When I was young, musicians had to pretend that success and money didn't matter. Ambition, in a sambista and especially in a woman, was seen as an unforgivable fault.

    In the photo, taken in 1942, Sofia Salvador wears the pixie cut she made famous. Her eyes are wide. Her lips are parted. Her tongue flicks the roof of her mouth; it is unclear if she is singing or screaming. Earrings made to resemble life‑sized hummingbirds-their jeweled eyes glinting, their golden beaks sharp-dangle from her ears. She was vain about her lobes, worried they would sag under the weight of her array of earrings, each one more fantastical than the next. She was vain about everything, really; she had to be.

    In the photograph she wears a gold choker, wrapped twice around her neck. Below it are strand upon strand of fake pearls, each one as large as an eyeball. Then there are the bracelets-bands of coral and gold-taking up most of her forearms. At the end of each day, when I'd take those necklaces and bracelets off her and she stopped being Sofia Salvador (for a moment, at least), Graça flapped her arms and said, "I feel so light. I could fly away!"

    Graça drew Sofia's dark eyebrows arched so high she always looked surprised. The mouth-that famous red mouth-was what took her the longest to produce. She lined beyond her lips so that, like everything else, it was an exaggeration of the real thing. Who was the real thing? By the end of her short life, even Graça had trouble answering this question.

    The picture was taken for Life magazine. The photographer stood Graça against a white backdrop. "Pretend you're singing," he ordered. "Why pretend?" Graça replied.

    "I thought that's all you knew how to do," the photographer shot back. He was famous and believed his fame gave him the right to be nasty.

    Graça stared. She was very tired. We always were, even me, who signed Sofia Salvador's name to hundreds of glossy photos while Graça and the Blue Moon boys endured eighteen‑hour days of filming, costume fittings, screen tests, dance rehearsals, and publicity shoots for whatever her latest movie musical was. It could have been worse; we could have been starving like in the old days. But at least in the old days we played real music, together.

    "Then I will pretend to respect you," Graça said to that fool photographer. Then she opened her mouth and sang. People remember the haircut, the enormous earrings, the sequined skirts, the accent, but they forget her voice. When she sang for that photographer, his camera nearly fell from his hands.

    I listen to her records-only our early recordings, when she sang Vinicius's and my songs-and it is as if she is still seventeen and sitting beside me. Graça, with all of her willfulness, her humor, her petty resistances, her pluck, her