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Breath and Shadows (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
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Breath and Shadows (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  67 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
The Rosteds carry a love of beauty and a propensity for madness in their blood, a blessing and a curse that grace and haunt each generation. "Breath and Shadows" moves among three branches of the Rosted family tree, dramatizing the obsessions and eccentricities of a cast of unforgettable characters. There is Thorkild, a dwarf consumed by grief for his only child, a soldier ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 6th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published April 7th 1999)
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Russell Bittner
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breath and Shadows is the second of Ella Leffland’s books I’ve read (having read and reviewed Rumors of Peace just a couple of weeks ago), and I have to say that I find her command of the language — not to mention her characterization and setting — virtually without peer. If Rumors of Peace was a consummate coming-of-age story, Breath and Shadows is a consummate multi-generational family story. I frankly can’t say enough good things about either of them.

Just as I ranked Rumors of Peace
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This multi-layered saga of Danish family madness has keen descriptions of various cold weather landscapes, bad weather, plus a meadow and some beaches. I think these geographical pictures inform our awareness of where the characters draw their moods and inspirations. The characters are compelling but somewhat remote. Told through flashbacks and flashforwards three generations of a family are followed through happy times, sad times and grotesque times. I am glad to be introduced to this author wh ...more
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is my second time reading Breath and Shadows. This is an amazingly well-written and crafted novel about three generations of a Danish family stretching from the 1700s to the 1970s. It focuses on the themes of mental illness and family dynamics and is set against the social and political history of Denmark. The chapters are written as four different narratives, three of which deal with the separate generations. The fourth narrative beautifully describes the evolution of a cave over centuries ...more
This book takes place mostly in Denmark and because I am part Scandinavian I seek out books from that area of the world most of which seem to be dark police procedurals mysteries. This book goes back several general generations in the same family showing how certain traits echo through families. The historical parts I found much more interesting than the current generation who I found rather boring.
Pat Buzby
May 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I loved the Danish setting and references to the towns and weather and even the Evanston connection but the book itself didn't do much for me. It was just a complicated soap opera of different generations with a lot of baggage. I could have condensed the good parts and made it a short story and been done with this one.
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wept -- wept on the subway -- at the climactic scene. The characters are like real people, haunting, lovable, unknowable. The language rarely calls attention to itself, only tells the story and evokes the questions the story leaves you asking.
Nov 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brother and sister in the present attempt to find out about their ancestors who lived during the Middle Ages. A really good story. This author definitely doesn't write the same book twice. I like her style.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little hard to track relationships, but very vividly and beautifully written.
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Milena
Recommended to Amy by: garage sale
This is one of my favorite books of all time! Multi-generational saga, really moving and beautiful.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
kind of hated it but at the same time loved it.
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