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Extended Audio Sample The Air We Breathe: A Novel Audiobook, 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 Woodman Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2007 ISBN: 9781482977264
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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.”

    Elle

  • “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.”

    Booklist

  • 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 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 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 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 Pava Cohen | 1/15/2014

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison MacAdam | 1/13/2014

    " It's coming out in October... Andrea Barrett is a fantastic writer, and all of her stories and novels follow the same galaxy of interconnected characters. Yet they're all readable on their own, too. This book takes place in an upstate NY sanatorium for mostly poor immigrants. America is just about to get involved in World War One, and the sanatorium and nearby town becomes inflamed by hatred and nativism that rise to the surface as Americans go off to fight overseas. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shirley | 1/10/2014

    " This book is about the TB-cure camps in a fictional town called Tamarack Lake in the Adirondacks, about the patients, the new inventions (X-Ray), what they do to keep their minds engaged -- and what happens when war or disease causes people to become suspicious of other people, especially foreigners. When WWI starts, the thrust to ferret out "the enemy" could remind you of other times in our history, even up to "Homeland Security". The subject matter is something I didn't know about -- the characters are good -- and I really liked this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee Ann | 1/9/2014

    " A very good book but not for those who like action. This is all about relationships and history. The book is set in 1916 in a tuberculosis sanitorium in upstate NY at the very beginning of WWI. I learned a lot about that time period and the culture of the sanitariums and private "cure" houses. Class payed a huge role in the quality of care people received, as it does today. Fear of "terrorists" in America during the WWI era was as destructive then as now. Even in the midst of chronic suffering the author reveals that some people have the strength of character to survive and grow and that some people, sadly, never will. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katy Stephenson | 1/5/2014

    " I should really like this book - public health history! - but it's kind of predictable. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jamie | 12/23/2013

    " This book bored me to pieces. I put it down. No interest in picking it up again "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frances | 9/21/2013

    " I liked the period and setting of this Adirondack town organized for people getting a TB cure in the days preceding and during our entrance into WWI. However, I just didn't enjoy two of the main characters, Naomi and Miles. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leona Ennis | 3/4/2013

    " This was a hard book to get into for the first 50 pages or so, but then I was hooked and I enjoyed reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexis | 12/18/2012

    " I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to read again. At times I felt that things were moving too slow. I did like the perspective the book was written from, and the narrator's voice, however. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 10/17/2012

    " This book was pretty slow for the first half, but the characters finally started developing and things picked up a little in the second half. It was an interesting perspective on the war. I also gained a few insights on tuberculosis and what is was like to live with the disease. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lil | 2/17/2012

    " I started enjoying this book when I reached the last third, but it wasn't enough to make up for the dry beginning. There weren't any characters that I got attached to and for me, that is must to really like a book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Connie Walsh | 2/5/2012

    " What I learned: The scrounge of TB around the time of WWI, tenement housing and public health, sanatoriums and "rest cures" defined by class status, and the beauty of Adirondacks. Barrett's research is meticulous. She reacreates the time,place and feel of the affliction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 1/23/2012

    " Great historical fiction, but poor mystery. I was kind of confused because the mystery didn't seem like a mystery at all to me. The romance was also a little cliche. But still, a good period piece - onset of WWII "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristen montoya | 11/11/2011

    " kind of slow so far... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michele | 8/29/2011

    " I never was that interested in the characters and I felt the book was a little dull. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marta | 6/29/2011

    " I love Andrea Barrett's books. This isn't her best, but I enjoyed the setting and the piece of early 20th century history that she's never written about. The characters are interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn | 6/21/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book. Very interesting history about TB and WWII. Well written and thought-provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 3/26/2011

    " Has the historical sense of place and time that I love pitch perfect, interesting perspective and engaging characters. Very ethereal. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pava | 3/18/2011

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry | 3/16/2011

    " I loved this story, a great mixture of passion and historical fiction, with racism and women's lib thrown in! I listened to it on audio and it got me all the way to NJ! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leona | 3/16/2011

    " This was a hard book to get into for the first 50 pages or so, but then I was hooked and I enjoyed reading it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bree | 12/8/2010

    " Readable, but not enjoyable. Perhaps only readable becuase I was trapped on an island that I could walk around in 30 mintues, with no other available reading material. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina | 11/25/2010

    " While I really liked the story I thought it lacked a good ending. I thought the subject matter was very interesting and look forward to discussing this at book club. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marie | 8/21/2010

    " Not my favorite book by this author. The last section read perhaps the best of the story. "

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About the Author

Andrea Barrett has received a National Book Award and a MacArthur Grant and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A fellow at the New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers, she lives in North Adams, Massachusetts, and teaches at Williams College.

About the Narrator

Jeff Woodman is an actor and narrator. He is a winner of the prestigious Audie Award and a six-time finalist. He has received seventeen Earphones Awards and was named one of the Fifty Greatest Voices of the Century by AudioFile magazine. As an actor, he originated the title role in Tennessee Williams’ The Notebook of Trigorin and won the S.F. Critics’ Circle Award for his performance in An Ideal Husband. In addition to numerous theater credits on and off Broadway, his television work includes Sex and the City, Law & Order, and Cosby.