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on November 17, 2014
I have owned this for a while, but it wasn't until I suggested it to my book group for our November read that I picked it up. After finishing it, all I can say is that I have no idea why I waited.

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.
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on October 25, 2014
I chose this book because the main character, whose name was Rebecca, was an artist/photographer and my age. I am a watercolor artist. I was curious as to how the author was going to address "creativity" as well as senior citizen issues. In the story Rebecca was concerned about being past her prime in the art world as well as in her personal life. She decides to take a year away from New York to redefine herself in an isolated community. In the process she discovers a mystery in the woods that helps reawaken her artistic senses. It was very enjoyable. All the characters were believable and the story had good follow through.
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on June 27, 2014
Goodreads Description- Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

This is one of my favorite authors and at first I had a hard time getting into the story because I thought there was just going to be more to the story. However the story was a simple, but not simple in an immature writing style or bad in any way, story about the seasons in Rebecca Winter's, a once very famous photographer, life. She was a once very famous photographer but as she approaches 60 she is finding herself low on funds and lonely, as she is now divorced from her husband and her grown son has left the nest. Her parents are aging...her mother, whom she was never close to as a child, is in a care home slowly succumbing to dementia and her father is living with their longtime housekeeper but still depends on Rebecca's financial help. However, Rebecca is finding it hard to keep up with the times, both with her photography and financially, so she moves temporarily to a cottage in the country and rents out her New York apartment to save money and to try to find herself.

While in her new cottage she meets a host of characters, all of whom appreciate Rebecca both as an artist and a friend. While out walking the woods, Rebecca begins finding white crosses with different memorials with them such as yearbooks, dolls, and trophies. She begins photographing them in situ and thinks she has something special to finally show. In the meantime Rebecca also meets Jim Bates, a local roofer and jack of all trades who she befriends over time. Little does Rebecca know that Jim's sister, Polly, is mentally ill and it is her that is leaving these mysterious crosses all over the woods. After a tragedy that remains unknown to Rebecca, Jim disappears from her life and Rebecca goes ahead with showing her White Cross Series at a new young hip gallery in New York. Rebecca Winter is back! But with this success she finds herself terribly lonely with Jim's sudden and unexplained disappearance from her life.

What will Rebecca do? Can she possibly talk to Jim and return to their former relationship? This is a book about change and how nothing remains the same. Life is always changing and you never know what will come next. Quindlen explores life and its many levels and layers through Rebecca's life. It is often funny, bittersweet, sad, and thoughtful. The book is simple but beautiful and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick but meaningful read. 4 stars!
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on February 22, 2014
I think I've read everything Quindlen's written, so I read "Still Life" as soon as it became available. I'm left with several discordant impressions, but overall thought it was a very good novel. Hence, the 4 stars. The protagonist, Rebecca Winter, isa 60-ish once-successful divorced photographer, a New Yorker. As her financial reserves dwindle, and she sees her professional life as probably behind her; she rents a "cabin in the woods" somewhere north of the city - while renting out her "valuable Manhattan condo" for a year. The more we learn about the cabin, the less likely this seems as a solution to finncial woes - but that's where the story goes. The story follows Winter as she tries to build a life for herself in these very sparse & almost-uninhabitable surroundings. Quindlen does an excellent job describing the pulls, responsibilities, and frustrations of this woman who's still a member of the "sandwich" generation. Her financial problems are further burdened by the responsibility she bears for the care of two aging parents - and she has an adolescent son as well. Quindlen describes Winter's life in this remote, snowy town well - there are very few personal connections, yet the key ones carry us through the rest of the story.

I don't want to go into more detail as I don't want to be a spoiler. I think my problems with the book stem from an ending that feels too neat to me - tieing up so loose ends a little too well. I didn't think the book was headed into a "happily ever after" place, so I guess I was just puzzled that it did. I was glad to be along for Rebecca's journey & the resurgence of her career felt great. All through the book, I kept thinking of the artist who was the subject of Margaret Atwood's "The
Cat's Eye". . .don't ask why. Probably just reading about the inner life of an artist with all the insecurities of even
those who become well-known. Maybe it's female artists possibly past their prime. . .not too different from where
I am.
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on August 10, 2016
Engaging, Pleasant (as Quindlen ) usually is -- involves pathos... loyalty to parents, love of home, being uprooted from home, stroke, and later death of a cherished parent, significant others who are unfaithful. She offers a "slice of life, without excessive pits." She is a non-judgmental person whose characters are allowed to be human. They aren't perfect, they are flawed, and Quindlen doesn't beat-them-up for being so. Warning , if you consider mention of a pregnancy which ends in abortion to be outside what you can tolerate-- don't read it. It is handled briefly, without graphic detail, and with the serious forethought it deserves. Have never been disappointed w/ an Anna Quindlen novel.
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on March 17, 2014
Anna Quinden is one of my favorite writers and a new book by her is always a cause for rejoicing. I am on my second reading of "Still Life..."and am enjoying it as much as I did the first time. It concerns a divorced woman, Rebecca, in her early '60's, a previously well-known and successful photographer whose success has now diminished and who is currently in financial straits. A lifelong Manhattanite, she sublets her expensive apartment for the income, and rents -- sight unseen -- a house in the mountains a couple of hours from Manhattan (we are not told exactly where). Despite the glowing advert, the house is run-down and offers only primitive comforts. The ins and outs of her personal and professional adjustment to these very changed circumstances constitute Rebecca's story, which brings her many interesting and surprising outcomes.
On the second reading, I was more conscious of Quindlen's narrative technique and how it much it contributed to my enjoyment of the book. She uses a third-person narrative, but weaves in and out of the thoughts of all the characters -- even of the dog -- and in her interventions, she looks back to the past and even forward to the future. Thus, despite the "impersonal" narrative form, her technique gives the impression that she knows these characters personally and even shares in their personal histories. It's nice!
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on July 6, 2015
Anna Quindlen has given us a novel that is full of life lessons. Rebecca has spent her entire 60 years feeling put down by first her mother, then her husband and her agent. No wonder she became a doormat for her husband until he did her the favor of leaving her for another woman. Forced to fend for herself, she found that she could not trust the men she met, had no passion about her work (she actually never did). Eventually forced into abandoning her Park Avenue digs for a hut in the sticks to survive financially, she went on a journey that opened her eyes and her heart to her self worth, her talent, her passion and her ability to survive and to come out better than she had ever been. There is hope for us all!! Thank you Ms. Quindlen for a wonderful book that was a hit with my book club.
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on April 21, 2014
I really liked Anna Quindlen's Blessings and highly recommend it. This book is not as complex as Blessings and it opts for the happy ending (oops, spoiler!) with all the loose ends neatly tied up. But it's a good read. She has a gift for detail and nuance. I spent some time living in the Adirondack region of upstate New York recently, and it's a whole different world from New York City. (Mind you, Quindlen never tells us where her protagonist is living, but it's two hours from New York City and there are mountains...sounds like the Catskill region to me.) Not an easy adjustment for someone accustomed to life in the city, and Quindlen's descriptions of Rebecca Winter's struggles to adapt to a different culture are spot on. But why is it that so many "women's" novels I read these days feature a coffee/tea shop with a woman proprietor whom the novel's protagonist befriends? It's almost become a cliche' to have a coffee shop with a gossipy woman owner in a novel.

If you've never read anything by Anna Quindlen before, read Blessings. On the other hand, if you're a woman at midlife and you think your best days are behind you, this novel may inspire you to think otherwise. In any case, it's a good read.
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on February 11, 2014
I love Anna Quindlen's books, but this left me feeling let down and empty inside. The premise is great, Rebecca is a once known for her work in Photography. She has lived most her life in NYC where she has lived in comfort and enjoyed the sucess of her work. Now that she is in her 60's, divorced, she finds her agent is not returning her calls and her photos are not as popular as they once were. She also has some financial stress, so she decides to rent her NYC apartment for a year and live simply, in a rented, country cabin. The plot involves her adjusting to life in the country, reflecting on her life, meeting new, interesting characters, taking new photographs and how you can re-invent yourself in one year. She writes gorgeous, her words string together like a piece of art. However, the story did not develop as deep and rich as it could have. The characters were interesting, yet you only get to know them on a superficial level. The book jumps around to different settings, just when you 're getting interested in the people and the setting, the chapter ends. The book never quite gets to that deeper, storytelling level, where you feel really connected with the character and the other characters in the book. It's a shame because there was so much potential to get to know everyone better and even enjoy the surroundings better, including the cabin.
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on March 21, 2014
First of all, I love Anna Quindlen's writing. It's clean, crisp and clear - the highest accolade a writer can receive, in my opinion. But, like the heroine of "Still Life" Ms Quindlen seems to have run out of steam lately. Not surprising - she's written and written and written and written...to our great delight. But "Still life" never quite engages me fully. I skimmed through it quickly, never really connected with the main characters and was disappointed at the rather pat ending. It pains me to write even a single critical word about Ms. Quindlen's work. God knows I aspire to write even half as well. But Amazon asked, so I told my truth: "Still Life" doesn't hold a candle to "Black and Blue." Darn it.
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