Book Review — The Weight of Air

29 Mar

Kimberly Duffy has done it again! The Weight of Air, an historical novel with a circus setting!, is an incredible read. It’s one of those books I was swept into from the start. And it has so much — rich historical detail, intriguing characters, and, above all, heart. I loved it and highly recommend it. Find out all the details below, plus more of my very inadequately expressed thoughts.

Two women–bound by blood, torn apart by circumstance–find together that true strength comes in many forms.

In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. When he dies unexpectedly, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets off in the company of acrobat Jake Cunningham in hope of finding the mother she thought was dead.

Isabella Moreau, America’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But age and injury now threaten her security, and Isabella, stalked by old fears, makes a choice that risks everything. Then her daughter Mabel appears alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, and she is forced to face the truth of where, and in what, she derives her worth.

As Mabel and Isabella’s lives become entangled beneath the glittering lights and flying trapeze of Madison Square Garden, their resiliency and resolve are tested as they learn the truth of what it means to be strong.

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes readers back in time and across oceans. Her books feature ahead-of-their-time heroines, evocative settings, and real-life faith. Kimberly loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of 20 years. He doesn’t mind.

You can find Kimberly at:

My Impressions:

I’m warning you, The Weight of Air is so much better than my words can express. 😉 It’s one of those books that elicits so many feelings that prove difficult to translate in a review. So, I’ll try to be succinct and clear — but just know, you definitely want to read this book! First the setting: it’s the circus of the early 1900s. Duffy’s descriptions of the big top, the backstage rooms, and the people who inhabited that very special world transported me smack dab in the middle of it all. The story follows a mother and daughter separated for 20 years. Mabel, at 6 feet tall, is dubbed the strongest woman in the world. Her mother, Isabella, is an aging aerialist past her peak. What characters they are! Damaged and flawed and defined by their own and others’ expectations, prejudices, and motivations. While I certainly cannot bend iron bars or fly through the air without trepidation, I could relate to those women on various levels. There are a number of men in their lives (living and dead) who exert influence (good and bad) over them, but it is in making their own way that they find freedom. Two of the male characters, Robert and Jake, I liked very much. But they were not saviors, though they did extend so much grace. They were flawed just like the rest of us, and I cheered their own growth. A few of the themes include grace, forgiveness, and finding strength in Christ when we are at our weakest. A solid historical novel, The Weight of Air, also has elements of women’s fiction and romance. The romance between Mabel and Jake is sizzling sweet — just an FYI for those who like that in their books. 😉 I think this novel would make an excellent book club selection — the well-drawn characters, rich historical detail, the storyline, the setting, and the truths expressed offer so much to discuss. Grab some friends and read it together!

Highly Recommended.

Great for book clubs.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

3 Responses to “Book Review — The Weight of Air”

  1. Cindy Davis March 29, 2023 at 2:03 pm #

    I agree, I had a difficult time reviewing this one as well. It really has to be experienced!

  2. Linda Rodante March 30, 2023 at 8:33 pm #

    Sounds intriguing but no Amazon link. 🙁 I went to Kim’s page from the link here, and her amazon link did not work! I can get there, it just makes it easier when there is a buy link! Hint, hint.

    • rbclibrary March 30, 2023 at 8:52 pm #

      Noted! I used to put the buy link, but the disclaimers involved can some times be tricky. Carrie Schmidt mentioned you to me tonight. Isn’t that funny? I am on a committee organizing a book festival in Perry, GA featuring Christian authors. She said you may be interested.

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