The book you read is the Air You Breathe

Genre: historical fiction. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 4.11 .⭐️Stars from me: 5

You always know when you are reading a good book. It doesn’t feel like a book. You see no traces of backstage manipulations, no tricks, no author. The story is alive on its own.

The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles feels so real I had to double-check it’s not a memoir. Even when I already knew the characters were fictional (although they were partially based on real people) I was still googling for them. I wanted to see what they looked like even though I knew they never existed. That’s the closest I could find.


According to the interview with the author, these two singers, Carmen Miranda and Chavela Vargas, were the inspiration for some of the characters’ traits and stories.

In some sources The Air You Breathe is called a saga. It does indeed cover a lifelong story but it doesn’t feel unbearably huge. Reading it is like listening to a person who is speaking about her love for a person and for music.

The music is so palpable it gives the book a new dimension. I now know samba without having ever listened to it before.


At first, I was thinking the book would make a great movie. There are so many amazing visuals, really good songs. But the more the story developed the more I understood a movie might turn this story into another postproduction amputee. There are too many depths and precious moments for a movie to handle. I just hope that if the story is ever picked up for an adaptation it will be preserved as it is.

Such books are not born overnight. I don’t even mean all the research that went into The Air Your Breathe to show the readers Brazil in the 30s and Hollywood in the 40s. I mean the maturity of the book. It feels like classic even though it was published just three days ago. Such quality requires not only skill and talent but time to brew. I contacted Frances de Pontes Peebles, the author, for more information and found out that my perception was right. Frances said it took her 9 years to write the book.

I feel lucky to have found this book and to be living at times when I could get it with one click. I also feel a bit envious of those who haven’t read it yet. They have yet to meet the characters, whom I already miss, and to enjoy a really good book.


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