Monday, June 20, 2016

Sweet Breath of Memory by Ariella Cohen

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Review by Suze
Cate needs a fresh start. She is broke and has to earn some money. Her husband John died two years ago and she's still lost. She needs a job though and in Amberley there's work for her. Helen hires her as a caregiver and the women in Amberley completely trust her judgement, which gives them the confidence to immediately treat Cate as a friend. She first meets Sheila, the owner of an Italian grocery shop. She makes the most delicious food and offers Cate a place to stay. Gaby owns the diner across the street. She always knows exactly what her customers need. MaryLou is a strong woman with a big mouth, who fixes cars. Together they try to give Cate what she needs to feel better again and they're getting much more in return than they expected.
Cate is a writer and after her husband passed away she stopped doing what she loves the most. In Amberley she starts writing again. She's inspired by the diary of a Jewish woman who survived the ghetto in Lodz in the Second World War. Cate's husband was a victim of the war in Iraq and when she finds out what happened to him Cate is devastated. Together with the women around her, who are like sisters, she has a chance to pick herself up again. Her future might not be the one she dreamed of when she married John, but maybe there will be another chance at happiness for her in Amberley...
Sweet Breath of Memory is a beautiful impressive story about a woman who's lost everything. Cate is completely alone and it broke my heart to watch her struggle. Amberley is a wonderful place though, it's enchanting and it has a lot of character. I loved the way Ariella Cohen describes the setting and the women of the town are heartwarming. They each have a unique personality and I enjoyed reading about their lives. Ariella Cohen describes life the way it is, raw and sad, but also hopeful and surprising. There's a lot of honestly, forgiveness and growth, which makes the story really interesting. I love books about strong women and this is such a great one.
Ariella Cohen describes her characters and setting in detail, which makes her story vivid and colorful. Amberley is magical and I love how Ariella Cohen created a safe and intimate world where women are close and where kindness knows no bounds. She combines that with impressive war histories. I sometimes had tears in my eyes when I read what people had to go through. There's so much suffering and cruelty. Ariella Cohen shows her readers two exact opposites, the extreme violence in contrast to the warmhearted inhabitants of the town. It's a good choice and it works very well for the story.
I highly recommend Sweet Breath of Memory. It isn't a quick read, it's a story that should be slowly savored and appreciated. It's brilliant when a book brings an abundance of warmth and friendship. The connections between the main characters are all special. Cate forms amazing bonds with her clients and friends and with the people she meets because of her writing. Sweet Breath of Memory is a fantastic emotional story with a delightful loving core.
About Ariella Cohen
A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, Ariella now lives in New England but her dream self resides in County Mayo, Ireland. The daughter of a school teacher/librarian, she doesn't remember learning to read, only the frustration when her older siblings could and she couldn't.

Ariella graduated with honors from Barnard College, Columbia University, and attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a Visiting Scholar. Her three years in that city were magical. She holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School where she served as Associate Editor of both The Journal of International Law and Comparative Studies in Society and History.

Sweet Breath of Memory is Ariella's debut adult novel. Her debut Young Adult novel is currently on submission.

Ariella believes in the healing power of coffee, cannolis, Vivaldi and cat purrs.
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  1. This sounds like a fantastic book. I look forward to reading it

    1. You would love this story, I'm 100% sure of it.

  2. Grief is so hard to deal with, but especially when other situations (financial issues) make it more difficult.