The Air We Breathe (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Because I've always been intrigued by old black and white pictures of
cozily wrapped patients lying on sunny winter porches in beautiful
mountain areas, I grabbed Andrea Barrett's book the minute it arrived. I
soon learned the terribly reality of tuberculosis sanatorium care in
1916 before the advent of antibiotics. At Tamarack Lake the focus is on
the sick. Wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages;
charity patients, mainly immigrants, fill the large sanatorium on the
hill. Patients are advised to heal the mind and the body..."no talking,
no smoking, no laughing, no singing, no reading and no writing." The
mostly European immigrants have few material goods but a common
generosity of spirit, welcoming Leo Marburg into the fold, despite his
personal oddities - in particular an inclination to keep his own
counsel. To provide stimulation, an enterprising patient initiates a
weekly discussion group. When his well-meaning efforts lead instead to a
tragic accident and a terrible betrayal, the war comes home, bringing
with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment.
This novel abounds with memorable, yet disparate characters and is set
in a period of great progress in science and medicine. As one reviewer
wrote, "[Barrett] is a magician at blending the excitement of science
with brilliant storytelling."

— Julie

Description


In the fall of 1916, America prepares for war--but in the community of Tamarack Lake, the focus is on the sick. Wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages; charity patients, mainly immigrants, fill the large public sanatorium. Prisoners of routine, they take solace in gossip, rumor, and--sometimes--secret attachments. But when the well-meaning efforts of one enterprising patient lead to a tragic accident and a terrible betrayal, the war comes home, bringing with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment. Reading group guide included.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393333077
ISBN-10: 0393333078
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: October 1st, 2008
Pages: 320
Language: English
 

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