Breathe by Lisa Bergren – My Review

David C. Cook (June 1, 2009)
It took me a while to unearth this from the TBR but with the tour coming up very soon for the sequel I figured it was a good time to drag this out of winter quarters. Dominic, Moira and Odessa St Clair are sent to Colorado Springs near the end of the 19th century because the Springs were a popular destination for Tuberculosis patients though back then the disease was merely referred to as Consumption or The White Death. Dominic and Moira were perfectly healthy but with their sister a convalescent suffering from this terrible ailment and several younger brothers already lost to its ravages as well as their mother and an unborn child lost before the child was born, their father wanted to make sure that the St Clair family had someone left to carry on its legacy so sent the healthy to care for their sister and start a bookshop in the springs to support the three of them.

Little did any of them know that although the Sanitorium at Colorado Springs was boasting a 90% survival rate despite the lack of knowledge and ability to end the disease, the only way a patient could be guaranteed to remain healthy was to remain in or near the Springs for life. Relapses were nearly always the price to be paid for traveling back to whatever home they originally came from. In spite of it all there were also secrets and politics at work amongst the respected society of the Springs that could prove to be deadly even for the healthiest residents if they chose to ignore or blockade the greed of those who wanted what was never theirs to claim by legal routes.

Despite the tragedies and machinations against those honest people who stood in the way of the supposed leaders of the town, the St Clairs tried to lead a normal life and protect their own. Though taking sides was not a choice they made intentionally, it soon became a threat to their survival. Hearts can be fickle and so we discover when Moira and Odessa find themselves falling for men deeply immersed in this feud for wealth by the coincidence of circumstances or the greed of humanity.

As I’ve come to know Bergren’s work over the past several years, these characters prove once again to capture my imagination and immerse me into this foreign world of Colorado in the 1880’s during a mining boom. Odessa keeps readers on the edge of their seats as her romance with a fellow patient at the Sanitorium and their disease stretches the limits of survival for them and anyone associated with them. Soon they all discover that this terrifying disease is only one of many threats to Colorado Springs residents and some of the others are much more dangerous. Bergren has written books that bridge so many topics and types of literature yet they all capture the readers and fans in a way unique to her writing. The Novels of the Gifted were historical in terms of their setting yet the stories themselves were supernatural fantasies with a spiritual theme. This new series, The Homeward Trilogy, which Breathe kicks off is a more “realistic” historical series though there still proves to be a more subtle spiritual theme in this first book about the St Clairs and the connections they make in the frontier town of Colorado Springs. Of course this wouldn’t be a Bergren book without the romance and twists to the plot that keep a reader guessing with details woven amongst the snippets of hints that draws a reader into the lives of the people such that we develop a connection with these fictional denizens of a “foreign” world and find ourselves rooting for certain characters that we love and admire and become wary of those that have evil intentions to take by whatever possible means what belongs to others. I am now off to read Sing so that I can share my further thoughts about the St Clairs and their world with you very soon. In the meantime get your copies of both books so that come summer when book 3, Claim, arrives you can complete the trilogy. (ISBN#9781434767080, 416pp, $14.99)

Codicil:
Visit Lisa’s Website. Use the cover above for more info or to purchase a copy. Thanks to TBB Media for a review copy.

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