Just like the author mentions and also, in my opinion, together with „In The Distance There Is Light”, „A Breathless Place” are the best books Harper Bliss has written so far.
„A Breathless Place” has so much drama, substance, delicacy and behind the angst, it shows so much hope for life and love. Harper Bliss describes all those feelings so wonderful and with such care not to ruin the characters, but to make them believable and real. I really loved this type of writing into the depths of one’s emotions (it is like the reader is in the heart and in the head of the character).
I liked the cover very much and especially, because it showed Izzy at the peak of her career and it is, also, what would have been the cover of her biography written by Leila Zadeh.
The title is perfectly chosen, as it can have double meaning: where Izzy was before Leila and where Leila is after meeting Izzy and of course, it is the title of the beautiful song Leila wrote for Izzy.
I read the paperback and I have, also, listened to the audiobook narrated by Abby Craden. Both are epic. The audiobook is the best I have ever heard.
I must warn you (the author also added a note) that the book contains the intent to end one’s life (possible suicide), thus it is not an easy read, but it, also, has so much depth, meaning, hope even after one has lost the most important thing in her life, love for music, a certain density of feelings, emotion, grace, fragility, elegance and many more.
I loved this book, because it is not just a romance, it touches not so likeable themes, but real ones, then, there is the special plot and also, the stunning (and flawed) characters (Izzie and Leila) and because they are two women reaching their sixties, they are complex, they have seen a lot during their lives, they had lots of experiences and have so much still to say and do.
Izzie’s letter is one of the saddest things I have ever read. It was hard to read it, and even if I can’t understand the reason of it, it made total sense in the setting of the book. It is an intimate letter to herself, her family and friends and to music, but in a sense it is selfish, and this is how it is supposed to be when the one writing it has decided to stop being, until someone else, with a different view and a different approach to life can see it and show a different point of view, that someone being Leila.
Isabel Adler was a superstar of the world music scene, she has won thirty six or thirty seven Grammy’s(not even she can remember how many), she was adored by many fans and had the world at her feet. That all has changed when after a surgery she has lost her voice for good. That made her lose her identity, her desire for life and to live. She has tried to regain her voice, but she could never again sing not even close to how she used to do before the surgery. She has a beautiful home, amazing friends (her ex lover , now her best friend, Vivian , her manager Ira, former biographer Bruce Winkleman) and lots of money, but her talent, her voice is no longer with her, she becomes secluded for the last 10 years and now reaching her 60 th birthday, she established that she has the right to take her own life, because she has nothing to give anymore to herself, her family and friends, nor to her public / audience. Or at least, that is what she believes. It is not easy to see her going through this pain.
I don’t know why, but in my mind, I imagined and compared Izzy with Celine Dion (in matters of voice, fame and success). I read Celine’s biography and there was a time when she has temporary lost her voice.
Izzy’s song: ”Somewhere I have never been” sounds like Celine’s version of „The Power of Love”.
Leila Zadeh is well known journalist who won a Pulitzer for one of her articles. She is of Iranian heritage and she knows what pain and loss mean. She came to the US to study and left her family behind in Iran, never suspected what may happen there. At 59 years old, she owns her flat and has a good career behind. Also, she is a very beautiful woman who enjoys the company of women, and as she describes herself, a serial monogamist. She is chosen to continue Izzy’s biography after Bruce had a riding accident and wasn’t physically able to write anymore.
Leila has a different approach to Izzy than Bruce did. Perhaps, because she is a woman, one that also is a lesbian, just like Izzy, but I do believe it is because of her bursting personality.
I am not sure where from Harper Bliss took the inspiration for Leilah’s name, but when I saw her name, in my head, one song popped up: Eric Clapton’s „Leila”.
The plot introduces two women close in age, but they are at different stages in their lives: Izzy lost her most precious gift and wants to die, while Leila has a great career behind and writing Izzy’s biography is the icing of the cake.
Izzy is invited and overwhelmed into and by Leila’s life and personality. Through her grace, elegance, beauty, tenderness, insightfulness and smartness, Leila shows Izzy parts of life and deep feelings, she has forgotten all about, being focused on her drama. As much as Izzy didn’t expected it and wanted Leila to be just the last women she slept with before she died, Leila’s intimacy provoked a combustion of life within Izzy and brought her back to life.
As much as it is a cliché, it is the perfect one for Izzy, Leila became the woman, the one and only woman, who could save her and saved her from taking her own life.
And to her surprise, Leila has even written her a song and with much love, gave her back the desire to sing with what is left of her voice, which is a great gift and even a greater one is that Leila taught her that her voice is a treasure to keep her legacy and she has so much more to offer to the world.
I couldn’t recommend more this book, because it is a fantastic one. I have chosen both paperback and audiobook and they both were a great gift, to me as a reader.