Synopses & Reviews
Breath and Shadows
is about three pairs of people who live in widely separated periods of time -- the late 1700s, late 1800s, and late 1900s. These people, as gradually becomes clear, are three generations of the same family, none of which has any knowledge of the other two. But there exists down through these far-flung generations a meshwork of cause and effect that reverberates all the way into the present.
The interrelatedness of these three pairs of people, the twining of their destinies, is the core of the book.
Though the novel takes place in three different centuries, it is rooted in such timeless attributes as social mores, class and money, as well as in historical events such as the battle at Leipzig, where Napoleon was crushed, and the ruins of Berlin in 1945.
These events are woven through the private lives of the characters, among whom are a lonely and young officer, a sculptress trying to find truth in the stone she works with, a man terrified of flying who forces himself to fly constantly, a woman who embodies the ineffable bond between an animal and a human being, and others responding to their world, their natures and their needs. It is a novel about the attempt of human beings to know the past, to know one another and to know themselves. It is about love, loss, sexual passion, human perception and the possibility that the search for goodness may be an act of insanity.
Ella Leffland brilliantly explores the perils of ordinary life that threaten the well-being, even the sanity, of one member of each of three generations of a Danish family in Europe and America -- people who are daring enough to believe that goodness and truth are possible in worlds they cannot control.
About the Author
Ella Leffland is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed The Knight, Death and the Devil. She lives in San Francisco.