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Extended Audio Sample The Air We Breathe: A Novel, by Andrea Barrett Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (793 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrea Barrett Narrator: Jeff Woodma Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In the autumn of 1916, Americans are debating whether to enter the First World War. There are “preparedness parades,” and headlines report German spies. But in an isolated community in the Adirondacks in upstate New York, the danger is barely felt. At Tamarack Lake the focus is on the sick. Wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages; charity patients, many of them recent immigrants from Europe, fill the sanatorium.

Here, in the crisp air, time stands still. Prisoners of routine and yearning for absent families, the inmates, including the newly arrived Leo Marburg, take solace in gossip, rumor, and secret attachments.

An enterprising patient initiates a weekly discussion group. When his well-meaning efforts lead instead to tragedy and betrayal, the war comes home, bringing with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment. Andrea Barrett pits power and privilege against unrest and thwarted desire, in a spellbinding tale of individual lives in a nation on the verge of extraordinary change.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A careful researcher and an even more deliberate writer…This expertly paced and thoughtfully written book is ample testament to her gifts.”


  • “In the fall of 1916, as the US involvement in WWI looms, the Adirondack town of Tamarack Lake houses a public sanitarium and private cure cottages for TB patients…Details of New York tenements and of the sanitarium’s regime are vivid and engrossing. The plot, which hinges on the coming of WWI, has a lock-step logic…the tragedy, betrayal, and heartbreak of war extend far beyond the battlefield.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Wealthy tuberculosis sufferers cure their lungs on private porches, while poor immigrants endure long stays at Tamarack State Sanatorium…Her storytelling restraint evokes the era…Fans of her previous work are unlikely to be disappointed.”


  • The Air We Breathe strikes a sharp allegorical note with civil liberty issues today.”

    Bookmarks magazine

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Traci | 2/20/2014

    " ok. -- better than what I thought it was going to be when I read it. It just takes awhile to get going but it does sum things up with characters that you truly like and those that you do not. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Sam | 2/10/2014

    " Not a bad read, but I definitely wanted more action/conflict. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tessyohnka | 1/28/2014

    " Historical fiction is a favorite of mine and I was very drawn in by the topic and the sanatorium setting. I appreciated the unfortunately timeless theme of the injustice that results when prejudice and patriotism are stirred. The use of the collective "we" as the narrator was problematic for me. At one point I was trying to figure out who would have known about conversations between Naomi and Eudora, or Miles and Dr Petrie, and the final paragraph didn't really help significantly. It was slow. the group sessions were somewhat pedantic and the box that drove the main action was a contrivance that I just couldn't credit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Pava Cohen | 1/15/2014

    " Set in a TB Sanitarium during World War II, enjoyed the flavor of the times. Quick, interesting read. "

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