Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger Blog Tour @Anne Cater@Random Things @Historical Fiction

Coming UP For Air Cover Image

Three extraordinary lives intertwine across oceans and time.
On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toy-maker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada where a journalist, battling a terrible disease, risks everything for one last chance to live.
Taking inspiration from a remarkable true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about the transcendent power of storytelling and the immeasurable impact of every human life.


I first became aware of Sarah’s writing with her book The Mountain Can Wait which was a superb read. This book is a completely different animal but is equally superb!

This book opens with a devastating prologue. In 1899 a young women decides to take her life and plunges to the depths of the River Seine! Her body fights and she briefly surfaces, but her brain has decided she must die so she sinks again below the surface,

Her death sets in motion a sequence of events involving 1950s Norway and present day Canada.

This book takes three disparate stories all linked by a theme of water and drowning and somehow creates this beautifully moving narrative that I completely lost myself in as I was reading.

The book takes poetic licence with the story of L’Inconnue de la Seine who is an unidentified young woman whose body was pulled out of the River Seine in Paris around the 1880s. Her death mask became popular among artists and writers, and ultimately her face was used as the model for the face of Resusci Anne (Resuscitation Annie) which is the manikin used for CPR training.

The author Leipciger reimagines what this nameless woman’s life could have been like in the time period before her death and this reimagined narrative anchors the book.

And mingled with this are two further stories of a toy maker in 20th century Europe who specialises in pliable plastics and coming to terms with a devastating loss of his own and a young 21st. century woman who feels she is  drowning in her own body as she battles a disease which is attacking her lungs.

These stories are interwoven  and the reader moves from one to the other without noticing the seams.

This is altogether a quiet, reflective book that places the reader firmly within the minds of the three protagonists and relating to the events which have placed them in the story. A story I enjoyed reading and would recommend to all.

Rating 5 stars

Thanks to Sarah for the tale

Also Anne for the tour.


Sarah Leipciger author pic

Sarah Leipciger was born in Peterborough, Canada. She spent her teenage years in Toronto, later moving to Vancouver Island to study Creative Writing and English literature at the University of Victoria. Leipciger left Canada in 2001 for Korea and South East Asia, and currently lives in London with her three children, where she teaches creative writing to men in prison. She is also a Creative Writing tutor at CityLit, and a pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University.

Coming Up For Air BT Poster

What Remains At The End byAlexandra Ford.# Blog Tour@ Love Books@ Kelly Lacey Tours@ Seren Books


Marie Kohler’s grandparents rarely spoke about their past, and now with the chance of
finding out the truth growing slimmer by the day, she travels to Europe to discover
what really happened. She uncovers an area of history forgotten by time and concealed
by unspoken truths. But how can what has been lost for so long be recovered in the face
of so many secrets?

In the aftermath of World War II, hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans, the Danube Swabians, were expelled by Tito’s Partisan regime. A further sixty-thousand were killed


Seventy years later, Marie Kohler’s marriage is falling apart. She’s seeing someone new, an enigmatic man named David, who takes her to the former Yugoslavia to find the truth behind her grandparents’ flight to America.

Alternating between the late 1940s and contemporary Serbia, Marie’s story is interwoven
with those of Tito’s victims—a young survivor who has lost his mother and his identity, a
woman held captive in a sugar factory, a refugee girl living in Austria under the din of air raid sirens. Her journey follows the Danube in search of connection in the face of loss.
Connection to the lost souls, to the memory of her grandfather, to the man beside her, to her grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s back home.

What Remains at the End sheds light on a largely undocumented history that led to the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Germans at the end of World War II. A story of war and suffering, of loss and the search for connection and identity, it is a heart-wrenching and important debut from Alexandra Ford.


This was a superb read! A book that has the reader enthralled and also hurt, disappointed and weeping in turns. The blurb says it all.

Marie’s marriage is collapsing  and she finds herself wishing to know why her grandparents flight to the USA.  A history she knows little of. All she knows is Grandparents were ethnic Swabian Germans living in Yugoslavia in an area now known as Serbia. Her lover David agrees to take her to the former Yugoslavia to find out more of her family’s history.

What follows is very painful for Marie as she struggles to find out what she wishes to know. The story alternates between 1940’s and contemporary Serbia, Marie’s story is interwoven with that of Tito’s victims.

Alexandra has written a story that casts a light on a forgotten holocaust. We all know what went on during the war but know very little of what happened in the immediate aftermath.

Alexandra’s writing and story tells us of events that we are largely ignorant of.

She weaves three stories that are loosely connected to Marie’s own ties it all up to make a satisfying read. Alexandra’s prose is simple yet eloquent. Beautiful but heart breaking. Hard to believe this is a debut novel. I will certainly read more of her work in the future. For me a superb read!


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Alexandra Ford
Alexandra Ford was born near Philadelphia. She earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her BA from Virginia Tech. Her writing appears in The Rumpus and No Tokens Journal, among others. She lives on a smallholding on the border between England and Wales. Her first novel What Remains at the End is available now.
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