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Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 28, 2014
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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“[A] wise tale about second chances, starting over, and going after what is most important in life.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Quindlen’s astute observations . . . are the sorts of details every writer and reader lives for.”—Chicago Tribune
“[Anna] Quindlen’s seventh novel offers the literary equivalent of comfort food. . . . She still has her finger firmly planted on the pulse of her generation.”—NPR
“Enchanting . . . [The protagonist’s] photographs are celebrated for turning the ‘minutiae of women’s lives into unforgettable images,’ and Quindlen does the same here with her enveloping, sure-handed storytelling.”—People
“Charming . . . a hot cup of tea of a story, smooth and comforting about the vulnerabilities of growing older . . . a pleasure.”—USA Today
“Quindlen has made a home at the top of the bestsellers lists with novels that capture the grace and frailty of everyday life, and her latest work is sure to take her there again. With spare, elegant prose, she crafts a poignant glimpse into the inner life of an aging woman who discovers that reality contains much more color than her own celebrated black-and-white images.”—Library Journal
“Quindlen has always excelled at capturing telling details in a story, and she does so again in this quiet, powerful novel, showing the charged emotions that teem beneath the surface of daily life.”—Publishers Weekly
“A Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist and star in the pantheon of domestic fiction (Every Last One, 2010), Quindlen presents instantly recognizable characters who may be appealingly warm and nonthreatening, but that only serves to drive home her potent message that it’s never too late to embrace life’s second chances.”—Booklist
“Profound . . . engaging.”—Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
As a reader with a table-high stack of books waiting to be read, I can't believe that what I did after getting to the end of this book, was to go straight back to the beginning and start over. I don't think I've ever done that with a book before. Sure, I re-visit my Jane Austens from time to time, but I've never before liked a book so much and gotten so involved with its characters that I went straight from the end right back to the beginning. Bravo and thank you, Anna Quindlen.
By the way, "Still Life With Bread Crumbs" is the title of Rebecca's most famous and best-selling photo.
Addenda 1/29/14: I've just read a really interesting interview with the author in today's Washington Post and am posting a link in the comment below.
To begin with, Rebecca Winter, the person this whole story is about, is 60 years old. I mean a bright, youthful, intelligent and healthy 60 years old. That to me is such a refreshing change, rather than a grandmotherly, aging, overweight and sickly 60 years old. So I was wonderfully pleased with that immediately. Beyond the fact of age, Rebecca is a very engaging woman, a rather famous photographer who has been successful in her life. Yet, she has come to a crossroads, where the money isn't flowing in any more and she looks for a change.
Rebecca rents a cabin in the woods that she found on the internet. So site unseen she moves in to this cabin and begins on a new and very different way of living than she has ever experienced. Many people become part of her life. One young roofer in particular, Jim Bates. Thus begins a very touching and realistic love story.
This is not only a love story though. It is about a woman re-inventing herself and finding peace with her aging parents, son and most of all herself.
I found some of the descriptive passages in this book to be almost poetic. I always enjoy a writer who can make me see what she sees. And since I am sixty years old and am in the process of 'remaking' myself after retiring from a career of 27 years, this book should have resonated with me. It did not. I felt as if I was reading a first draft, that the author had wanted to get all the bare bones of the story down quickly so she could come back and flesh out the scenes later. There was so much potential to plumb with various relationships in Rebecca Winter's life. However, I felt the author spent way too much time going over and over all the ways Ms. Winter's snobby husband had scarred her and not enough time showing the relationships blooming in her new life. I found Ms. Quindlen's habit of foreshadowing future information with 'more about that later' and of cramming additional information in parentheses particularly annoying. These only serve to jerk a reader out of the story, much like someone talking to you when you are trying to watch a movie.
I feel the bones of a good book are here. But depth of character is not and if I am not emotionally invested in the characters, no amount of artful description is enough to make me like a book.
Charming, eccentric and talented, photographer Rebecca Winter held a place of esteem in the New York City art world, until she didn't. At sixty, divorced and responsible for the care of her aging parents, Rebecca seemed to be heading on the fast track to nowhere. Expenses mounting, she decided to rent out her lovely Manhattan apartment and move to a rustic cabin a couple of hours out into the country. She hoped to save money and possibly come up with artistic inspiration.
Anna Quindlen has drawn a marvelously complex character in Rebecca - a success story trying to doge her downfall. Away from the city, Rebecca begins to discover aspects of life that are far different from her prior experience - such as a raccoon living in the attic that must be removed and destroyed. Why destroyed? As the roofer, Jim Bales, explained to her, raccoons will return to their old hiding spots and her attic was perfect. It seemed that he was a font of information of the kind that artsy city dwellers rarely had need to use. He was also doing a study of birds for the Audubon Society and hired her to do photography for the study. That he was also helpful and good-looking was an added attraction.
This would be an excellent book club selection with its variety of characters and the contrasts between rural and city life and life outlook. I would strongly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys women's fiction.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully developed characters in a charming tale of finding love in the midst of strife, struggle and hardship. So enjoyable.Published 6 days ago by Monica K
I like Anna Quindlen's writing in general, and this book was a pleasure to read.Published 9 days ago by V. Pierce
I don't know how I stumbled on Still Life with Bread Crumbs, but I'm glad I did.
It was a very pleasant read. Read more
Interesting book. made a good discussion at my book club groupPublished 10 days ago by Louise M. Tahmoush
A great slice of an all to real life! Inventing and reinventing ourselves is finding your path through a life...great read!Published 13 days ago by S. L. Cook
I appreciated reading the story of a woman I can identify with on so many levels - especially when she was full of self-doubt and questioned herself so many times.Published 14 days ago by Browser2014
The main character wasn't very likable to me. Rather monochromatic and self-absorbed. It's structurally well written by Quinlan, but I had to make myself finish reading it because... Read morePublished 18 days ago by S. Blue