Top positive review
A knock-your-socks off story with a fresh setting
on June 22, 2002
I give up. Somehow Phillips manages, book after book, to write stories I just can't wait to gobble up. I'm entertained, amused, touched--sometimes all in the same moment by her warm-hearted, sexy stories of women who lose everything and then meet the absolute baddest of the bad boys, like buttoned-up Isabel Favor and Lorenzo Gage in BREATHING ROOM. At the end of her rope, Isabel learns that surrendering to what life has in store for her is the ultimate secret. Yes, embrace the chaos and become emotionally richer as a result.
This theme is a consistent one w/Phillips, and it resonates for a lot of us in a world grown increasingly unmanageable, confusing--and, yes, chaotic.
Isabel Favor in BREATHING ROOM is a heroine so in control of every aspect of her life that I pictured her even folding over the corners of her own toilet paper! And my heart broke for her.
But, oh, and ah, and my, how delicious the future awaiting her just when she's lost everything and has nowhere to turn. Except into the arms of Ren Gage, Hollywood's really, really bad boy.
Except...he's no boy-man, and she's not a woman who's passively waiting for a knight on a white horse. Not totally-in-charge Isabel!
And all this delectablility takes place in the gorgeous world of Tuscan Italy, ripe with the smells of grapes and wine, warm with late afternoon sun--shoot, if I can't afford a trip out of town, let me spend another few hours reading BREATHING ROOM and visiting Tuscany vicariously.
I loved the characters, the setting, the poignant humor--everything. The secondary love story, for me, was richly drawn and equally affecting--a large cast of characters moving lightly, like sunshine on the leaves of the Tuscan olive trees.
SEP writes with such understanding of what it means to be a female in this culture, of struggling to be-all and do-all for everyone. As a result, her heroines are irresistibly winning. They speak for many of us. What they struggle with, we non-fictional women struggle with, too. We all need a little BREATHING ROOM. And Phillips translates that struggle into something charming, funny, and utterly delightful.
While I hate to weight down the charm of this book by mentioning that it also deals with big issues of life and how we deal with them, BREATHING ROOM touches on some really significant issues, though with such a light, deft hand that I am once again amazed by SEP's skill.
This is a perfect book for right now, for days when we'd all like to gather our scattered thoughts and not have to think about reality and how awfully, awfully real it can be. I'd rather live in the Phillips' BREATHING ROOM reality for a few hours and catch my breath for a moment. And then go back to real life with a smile on my face and a lighter heart. BREATHING ROOM is a real gift.