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Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 28, 2014
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Rebecca Winter was once a famous photographer, and, with any luck, she will be again. Having achieved surprising early success with her feminist “Kitchen Counter” collection, Rebecca, now 60, finds herself on fame and fortune’s flip side. With her former torrent of royalties dwindling to a trickle, Rebecca has been forced to give up her perfect Manhattan apartment for a paltry upstate cabin, and with marauding raccoons, stray dogs, and trigger-happy hunters, life in the country is proving to be no walk in Central Park. Luckily, Rebecca still has her camera, and she soon finds inspiration for new work in unexpected places, often in the company of a bird-watching roofer named Jim, whose quiet companionship proves to be just the balm she needs to fully embrace her unfamiliar surroundings. 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.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling Quindlen will hit the road with her latest novel, backed by a mammoth media promotional campaign. --Carol Haggas
“There comes a moment in every novelist’s career when she . . . ventures into new territory, breaking free into a marriage of tone and style, of plot and characterization, that’s utterly her own. Anna Quindlen’s marvelous romantic comedy of manners is just such a book. . . . Taken as a whole, Quindlen’s writings represent a generous and moving interrogation of women’s experience across the lines of class and race. [Still Life with Bread Crumbs] proves all the more moving because of its light, sophisticated humor. Quindlen’s least overtly political novel, it packs perhaps the most serious punch. . . . Quindlen has delivered a novel that will have staying power all its own.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[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
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Anna Quindlen is an extremely talented writer who can write just about anything -- news articles, novels, and a fabulous memoir which I have read twice already: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. Every time I pick up one of her works, I am reminded about how she manages to capture details of everyday life that ring so true, but that most folks seem to gloss over without thought or contemplation.
There is no need to go into plot or story line as the product description is quite complete, so I will not bore you with a regurgitation of what can be easily found elsewhere. I would like to share that this book captured my attention in its opening pages and I found myself reading the entire book in a matter of a couple of days. I was on an airplane (which usually means I have a hard time focusing since I am too busy paying attention to everything else) and found myself totally blocking out the noises and activities of the other passengers. While there is some predictability to one aspect of the story, I still found myself delighted with the book and sorry to see it end.
For fans of Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg's early works, and Julia Glass --- if you haven't read Anna Quindlen I would recommend you give her a try.
When on the first night she’s awakened by sounds in the attic crawlspace she needs an exterminator and meets a younger roofer Jim, almost 15 years her junior. He too has family obligations that command much of his time and life. The citizenry of the local town are colorful and adroitly written by author Anna Quindlen. They are fleshed out as actual and true characters who anyone who has ever lived in a small town will recognize.
The growing relationship between Rebecca and Jim moves along at a reasonable clip as they learn about each other. The area wildlife, a roaming dog, a new photographic series all blend into a story of two people who desperately need a second chance.
Interesting read for our Book Club. Sometimes some of it was not quite as interesting but it brings us all to the point of what is our main focus in life, what do we really value most?
Rebecca Winter used to be something. A once-revered photographer whose iconic works were viewed as feminist statements, her photographs aren't selling well anymore, her agent is becoming increasingly more hostile toward her, and her bank balance keeps declining. At 60 years old, when she receives a notable prize for her body of work, she realizes what this recognition means.
"To Rebecca, it was now official: she was done. Yesterday's news. In your heyday, you got attention; in your senescence, prizes."
She flees her posh New York City apartment to live for a year in a cottage in the country, hoping the rent from the apartment will help abate some of her financial woes, and the change in setting will inspire her to create again. Yet things are seldom what they seem: the cottage is much more rundown and isolated than she imagined, and the charming town she envisions is a little more smothering than she thought it might be. But when a raccoon invades her attic, she meets roofer Jim Bates, and the two strike up a casual friendship that teaches Rebecca that what she sees through her camera lens isn't always what is real.
As Rebecca struggles with doubt in her professional abilities, worries about her financial situation, grapples with the decline of her elderly parents, and ponders the dissolution of her marriage to a man who traded in for a younger woman every 10 years, she begins to feel herself warming to the cottage and the small town. Her daily hikes lead her to photograph everything she sees, and when she encounters a series of homemade wooden crosses in the forest, they inspire a vein of creativity she thought had tried up. But she has no idea what these crosses mean, why they're scattered haphazardly through the woods and accompanied by everyday objects, and their connection to someone in town.
This is an emotionally rich and compelling story about believing in yourself again, trusting your talents and having faith in your own worth. It's also about believing you deserve a second—and even a third—chance at happiness, and how the things we don't say are often the most powerful statements we make. I really enjoyed this book very, very much, and found myself devouring it very quickly.
It has been a while since I've read a book by Anna Quindlen, but after reading Still Life with Bread Crumbs, I was reminded just how much I love her writing, and how good books can make you feel.