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Coming Up for Air Hardcover – August 16, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An affecting Southern tale about second chances and banishing the ghosts of regret… Romantic storytelling at its simple best.” ―Kirkus (starred review)

“This standard example of women's fiction is elevated by Henry's subtle, sometimes excellent characterization.... Ellie's earnest quest for true happiness will resonate with many readers, especially fans of Kristin Hannah and Susan Wiggs.” ―Booklist

“A beautiful, emotionally engrossing story about marriage and motherhood, loss and longing. Patti Callahan Henry has done it again, capturing all the complexity of relationships with insight, compassion and a lyrical, unforgettable voice.” ―Emily Giffin

“Patti Henry's luminous story-telling shines through once again.” ―Mary Kay Andrews

“A buoyant journey of self-discovery from an author who understands the human heart… With the complexity of a sultry southern breeze, Coming Up for Air reveals the link between a mother's secret past and a daughter's hope for a new future.” ―Sherryl Woods

Coming Up For Air is a beautiful exploration of the deepest mysteries of the human heart. Patti Callahan Henry writes with compassion and insight, illuminating the pain of yearning and loss as well as the unsurpassed joy of love rediscovered.” ―Susan Wiggs

“A southern woman's journey into truth. An emotionally intense, beautiful and unforgettable novel. I loved it.” ―Robyn Carr

“In Coming Up for Air Patti Callahan Henry writes with piercing reality, grace and breathtaking insights. Every book Henry writes is a must-read for me, and this one rises to the top!” ―Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of The Butterfly's Daughter

“Heartwarming with a touch of magic. Patti Callahan Henry's elegant writing takes you on an emotional journey you won't soon forget. . . nor will you want to.” ―Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Midwife's Confession

“A richly textured story of love, loss and redemption, reminiscent of some of the best southern storytellers.” ―Donna Ball, author of A Year on Ladybug Farm

About the Author

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY is a full-time writer, wife and mother and the New York Times Bestselling author of seven novels with Penguin/NAL, including The Art of Keeping Secrets, Driftwood Summer and The Perfect Lovesong: A Holiday Story). She lives with her husband and three children outside Atlanta on the Chattahoochee River, where she is working on her next novel.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312610394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312610395
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read all of Patty's novels, and found her latest Coming Up For Air to my favorite. She told a story that will resonate with many readers. The story is about a woman, Ellie Calvin who is at a crossroads in life. Her only child, a daughter, has gone to college, her mother has just passed away and she is realizing she is in a dying marriage. The unexpected happens when she runs into her college boyfriend and learns he is working on a project that involves her mother. She discovers a hidden diary of her mother's that answers many questions that she needed and ones that her ex boyfriend, Hutch wants for his project. She developed the characters beautifully, and her description of the coastal town in Alabama was right on. I never had heard of a Jubilee and after reading this novel I hope I get to experience one. Amazing! If you are looking for a wonderful last summer read this is it. I truly did not want the story to end and leave these wonderful characters.
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Format: Hardcover
[Kirkus awarded this book a starred review, a rating with which I completely agree.]

"Coming Up for Air" catapults Patti Callahan Henry to Anne Rivers Siddons' level. That's walking in some tall cotton for any contemporary Southern writer. As I read "Air," I consistently and favorably found myself comparing it to some of Siddons' best novels, "Burnt Mountain" notwithstanding. Both writers demonstrate a similar love for the Deep South and share a lust for life's whimsies, particularly in nature. Both understand the convoluted mazes that are love and mother/daughter and male/female relationships. Both also appear to hold sacred the belief that the South's tumultuous 1960s should not be forgotten.

Set primarily in both Buckhead/Atlanta,GA, and in fictional Bayside, AL, which is a thinly disguised Fairhope on Mobile Bay, this story involves around Lillian "Ellie" Calvin, the female protagonist. The story includes: a manipulative husband with anger management issues and an opportunity to revive lost love; the unexpected death of her controlling mother who apparently died with a big secret that dates to the 1960s; empty nest syndrome after Ellie's daughter goes away to college; and a near-magical Summer House on Mobile Bay. It is whispered that those who stay there have a truth revealed and are forever changed. If Ellie stays there, will her truth be revealed, and will she be forever changed? Will she discover a truth about her mother that is better left a secret? Patti Henry beautifully reveals the answers in her luminous novel.

Others have said this is Henry's best works. She has previously had seven books on the NYT best seller list. "Coming Up for Air" is already among my all-time favorites. It is easily the best book I've read since "The Help" two years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
When the inscrutable Lillian Ashford Eddington passes away, her forty-something daughter, Ellie Calvin, struggles to deal with her grief --- the grief over losing a mother she both loved and resented --- and the realization that, despite a college-age daughter and their 20-plus years together, her marriage to husband Rusty has left her unfulfilled. When her old boyfriend, Hutch, approaches her about contributing to a documentary exhibit on her mother, Ellie is amazed to learn that Lillian was involved in the civil rights movement in Alabama in the early 1960s. This discovery, plus the unearthing of Lillian's diary, intensifies the mystery. Not only did her mother have a secret side, she also had a secret love --- one who was tied up in her activism, which all took place during the summer of 1961.

"Fans of THE HELP, THE NOTEBOOK and THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD will devour this chronicle of mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, old friends and old loves."
After reading her mother's diary, Ellie decides that the only way to have some closure is to find out what happened during that fateful summer so long ago. So she reaches out to her mother's best friend, Birdie, and leaves her Atlanta home to go to Birdie's beach house on the coast of Alabama, where her mother lived that summer. The beach house has a long, storied history. Legend has it that the truth is revealed to all who stay there, and their lives are forever changed because of it. After years of secrecy, a little truth sounds good to Ellie.

In addition to doing some much-needed research on her mother, the time and distance might help her gain some insight into her own troubled marriage: "I didn't know what to do with these disharmonious emotions about my marriage and my husband.
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By C. Bridges on August 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Patti really has a way with words.....my favorite book of hers has always been "When Light Breaks" but this one is now tied for the position!! I am not a person who gives spoilers or summarizes a book but I will say this...either by Kindle or hardcover it is worth every penny!! I loved this book so much I am also buying it hardcover!!
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Format: Hardcover
Patti Callahan Henry's latest is a book to be savored in late summer. A woman on the brink--of being an empty nester, a grieving daughter, a troubled wife, finds solace and wisdom when she flees to a magical spot on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. If you love Jodi Picoult, Elin Hilderbrand or Anne Rivers Siddons, you'll treasure this book.
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