Friday, 13 February 2015

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

‘Still Life with Bread Crumbs’ is the name of a much published photograph in Anna Quindlen’s similarly titled novel. It is a photograph that has earned protagonist Rebecca Winter a glowing reputation and ongoing royalties. But living in New York isn't cheap and Rebecca has rising expenses, including her mother’s nursing home to pay for. So at the age of fifty-nine, Rebecca up-stakes and heads for a cottage in the woods that she has leased off the Internet.

Yes, this is one of those ‘sea change’ novels and you can’t imagine a more striking change for Rebecca than forsaking the fashionable arty set of New York, to rub shoulders with the folk near her new home. First there’s Sarah, who never stops talking as she serves Rebecca breakfast at the Tea for Two café – the only place Rebecca can receive a phone and Internet connection.

Then there’s Jim the roofer who solves Rebecca’s raccoon problem. He’s strikingly good looking, though a bit young for Rebecca, yet the two become friends over a bird conservation programme. This could easily be a simple sort of ‘new life; new love’ story, but things get more complex when Rebecca discovers some unusual woodland shrines and decides to photograph them.

When a blizzard strikes, you realise how isolated you can be in a cabin in the woods and when the fragile infrastructure that keeps you connected to the world breaks down. Overall this a touchy-feely kind of story, but the writing is just witty enough to make this a fairly smart read, and the characters are interesting and diverse. A nice book to unwind with that will leave you in a happy place.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Still Life with Bread Crumbs

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