Coming Up for Air

St. Martin's Press

On the coast of Alabama, there is a house cloaked in mystery, a place that reveals the truth and changes lives...

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago.

As Ellie and Hutch start speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Fighting their feelings, they set out together to dig into Lillian’s history. Using both the diary and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…


Read an Excerpt

Coming Up for Air
OneThere are both wonderful and awful moments in a woman's life. Many of them, really. Standing in a white dress in front of family and friends, vowing to forever love the handsome man in front of me, is on top of my wonderful list. Then years later, standing in the receiving line at my mother's funeral and pulling away from that same man's touch because I knew I didn't--couldn't--love him anymore is more than awful. It's tragic.In these pages, I will try to wrap words around all of the tumultuous, confusing emotions, attempt to make sense out of what at the moment feels s


Praise for Coming Up for Air

“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

In the Press

COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan HenryKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of COMING UP FOR AIR . An affecting Southern tale about second chances and banishing the ghosts of regret.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • 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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Coming Up for Air



St. Martin's Press