Indie Review: Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger
In her stunning sophomore novel, Sarah Leipciger transcends space and time to weave together the stories of three individuals whose lives are inextricably linked.
In the late 1800s, L’Inconnue arrives in Paris bound for work as a lady’s maid, both parents dead and only her aloof aunt back home to miss her; in 1950s Norway, toymaker Pieter is father two young children, who are often second to his innovative work; and, in contemporary Canada, Anouk, a young women with cystic fibrosis fights the genetic disorder that promises to cut her life short. Leipciger hooks readers from the start; in the opening scene, L’Innconnue stands ready to throw herself in to the Seine, intent on ending own life. Inspired by the tale of L’Inconnue de la Seine, or the Unknown Woman of the Seine, a beguiling young woman, who, legend has it, died by suicide after a love affair went wrong, and whose visage was forever immortalized in the form of a death mask turned widely produced wall décor, her enigmatic expression inspiring works of art and invention.
Leipciger breathes vivid life into the characters with her powerfully evocative prose, particularly L’Innconnue herself, giving complicated, beautifully plotted depth to a woman who has inspired imaginations for decades. Exploring the tragedies that make up everyday life while celebrating our interconnectedness, this brilliantly conceived story lingers.
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Article originally Published in the June/July 2020 Issue Summer Reads Edition.