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Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Not only a prolific writer (seven novels, eight works of nona-fiction, and two children’s books, as well as being a columnist for Newsweek) Quindlen is a talented, insightful writer whose plot lines are unique and whose characters are so real they seem to be drawn from reality. Who, in this case, is the main protagonist Rebecca Winter inspired by the author in an earlier age when she began to question the meaning of each stage of a woman’s life. Her life, the life of Rebecca, who, at first, is valued by her work assayed by others, not by herself. Once renowned and rich, our sixty-year-old heroine is reduced to financial straits; forced to lease out her New York City apartment and rent a run-down cabin in the rural woods. Rebecca finds herself bereft of luxuries, lacking amenities, and “reduced” to fending for herself.
In the process of going from “riches to rags” (and living on the edge of poverty), puzzled to an existence she never knew before, Rebecca learns more from life as she discovers who she really is. All of this may sound like a bit of lofty banality, but this author is a master of couching the major, deeper meanings of life in minor events; all of which are somehow, sometimes humorously, interwoven. Sarah, the tea shop and bakery proprietress; Jim Bates the roofer; Polly, Jim’s sister; small white crosses with talismans inexplicably placed in the forest; Jack, the dog; Sonya, her father’s maid and companion; and Ben, Rebecca’s son. Each is complex with his/her own philosophy; each with their own deepening message in which Rebecca comes to find the true meaning of her own.
For those of you who would deem this a “chick lit” romance novel, think again. It is a well thought out and well-written literary gem that sparkles in the dark recesses of the mind and lights up the gloomiest winter chambers of the heart. And, unlike most of Quindlen’s other novels, she moves its moments of darkness into light richness with a very satisfyingly moving happy ending.
I would call this the perfect holiday read; but as the last days of December are quickly passing into the uncertain nether regions of the coming new year, I recommend Still Life with Bread Crumbs as an anecdote to what may be many dismal weeks ahead. A breath of spring time reading in the midst of the winter of our own discontents. Who knows? You may find hope and solace within the covers of this novel. Just as I did.
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.
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.