José Rodrigues dos Santos


A Vida num Sopro

(Life in a Breath)


Life in a Breath is a touching love story set during the Salazar dictatorship. (…) This novel is a trip to the human heart via Portugal and Spain.”

Focus, Portugal

Life in a Breath is a persistent and perverse hymn to the narrative. Destiny takes hold of the story and brings the characters to a dead-end. Even when the tragic climax of the novel seems almost over, new circumstances arise that further complicate the plot and take events into an unsustainable imbalance. Just like Thomas Mann. (…) Characters become alive, we see them, they feel, they struggle; it’s as if they were masks in a Greek play. (…) The contradictions, the anguish, the drama, the repetition of Antigona’s eternal dilemma, lost somewhere between the laws of writing and the laws of the heart, the pretences and the elusive ways to the truth. A tragedy is always made with these ingredients; they are life’s raw material.

We, the readers, are brought to share with the novel’s main character, Luís, a dramatic choice. We are accomplices of what makes us indifferent. And what is the return to the narrative if not the discovery, through the story, of the answers to the great enigmas, to the essential nucleus of our own humanity? The central theme of this book is related to all this, and that’s why it goes from the serenity of a juvenile love to the terrible convergence of lies, of perversion and of disgrace.”

Jornal de Letras, Portugal

"José Rodrigues dos Santos' tragic love story, Life in a Breath, was the 2008 bestselling novel of the year in Portugal."

Diário de Notícias, Portugal

"Life in a Breath tells us an extraordinary and exciting love story. (…) Readers of this wonderful novel cannot remain indifferent to such a beautiful, touching and passionate narrative."

O Penafidelense, Portugal