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Still Life: The instant Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick Paperback – 3 Mar. 2022
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THE INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
A BBC BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB PICK
WINNER OF DYMOCKS BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BEST BOOK OF 2021
WINNER OF THE INWORDS LITERARY AWARD
‘Sheer joy' Graham Norton
‘Utterly beautiful … filled with hope’ Joanna Cannon, author of Three Things About Elsie
’A gorgeous, generous story of kind hearts and kindred spirits’ Daily Mirror
From the author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a big-hearted story of the families we forge and the friendships that make us.
1944, Italy. As bombs fall around them, two strangers meet in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa and share an extraordinary evening.
Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner a 64-year-old art historian living life on her own terms. She has come to salvage paintings from the wreckage of war and relive memories of her youth when her heart was stolen by an Italian maid in a particular room with a view. Ulysses’ chance encounter with Evelyn will transform his life – and all those who love him back home in London – forever.
Uplifting, sweeping and full of unforgettable characters, Still Life is a novel about beauty, love, family and friendship.
‘THE most beautiful book … it will stay with me a long time’ Sara Cox, BBC Two’s Between the Covers
‘Extraordinary . . . my book of the year’ Liz Nugent, author of Our Little Cruelties
‘Moving, wise, poetic and funny’ Daily Mail
‘Winman’s pages teem with boisterous, exuberant life’ Sunday Times
Sunday Times bestseller 09/06/2021
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‘The sheer joy in Sarah Winman’s storytelling is completely infectious. I’ve loved spending time with this unforgettable cast of characters in extraordinary times and places’ Graham Norton
‘Glorious … This luscious and clever book is at first glance simply a rollicking summer read … It’s a joy to witness several different thoroughly believable models of how lives can be resurrected and changed for the better’ The Times
‘Winman’s pages teem with boisterous, exuberant life … The novel has verve, charm and tremendous heart; its most poignant scenes, set during the 1966 flooding of Florence, recall the darkest hours of last year’s pandemic’ Sunday Times
‘Exquisite … There are not enough superlatives to contain the magnitude and beauty of this novel’ Sunday Independent
‘In Still Life, [Winman] emerges now as the great narrator of hope’ Helen Cullen, Irish Times
‘Teeming with unforgettable characters and oozing atmosphere, it’s a joyous, summery ode to love, art and poetry’ Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday
‘A gorgeous, generous story of kind hearts and kindred spirits redefining the meaning of family and friendship … [A] hopeful, happy, intensely humane novel’ Daily Mirror
‘Readers will want to prolong the pleasure of Sarah Winman’s beautiful novel Still Life for as long as possible’ Donal Ryan, author of From a Low and Quiet Sea
'Embodies the full generosity of the human spirit. [A] bear-hug of a book’ Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
‘An utterly beautiful story, so generous, rich, deeply moving and filled with hope. Sarah Winman is one of the greatest storytellers of our time’ Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
‘Moving, wise, poetic and funny, this book is pure sunshine and I just loved it’ Daily Mail
The instant Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick
- Publisher : Fourth Estate; 1st edition (3 Mar. 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008283397
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008283391
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 34 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2022
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The young army corporal and the ageing art historian we first meet in 1944, in Florence, brought together by chance. This “odd couple” was promising, and the early pages are the best part of the book. Through these two ripple wider circles of family and friends. All salt-of-the-earth types and neither rounded nor credible characters. They felt rather like a “gang” – fans of Friends would probably love it. Chance and rather unlikely good fortune propels the story.
The interesting question is will Ulysses and Evelyn meet up again – hints of Friends again. This propels the reader through until 1980.The setting is divided between an East End pub and an Italian pensione. Like other similar novels the author checklists the big events with broad accuracy. However, the characters seemed remarkably tolerant, open-minded and liberal. Just too good to be true. Too nice really. This makes it difficult to plot social changes as I assume the author would like to do and as the reader would expect.
Dialogue is also anachronistic. Modern expressions are freely given to speakers in the 1940s and 1950s when they were absolutely not current. I am not sure how bothered the author was to get this right, as she also gives us a talking tree and a free-thinking parrot.
In my humble opinion, a novel must convince and challenge – and this does neither.
UPDATE: 08.09.21 Well I finished the book and it stands alongside Sarah's other three books. I adored the writing, happily embraced the magic of both talking trees and parrot and just kept wishing that this was how the world was then and how the world should be now. I've read some rather spiteful one star reviews with thinly veiled queer-bashing and they underline even more why Sarah's writing and Sarah's world view is so important.
Some people seem to think that fiction should be indiscernible from non-fiction though I can't think why they would! I love that Sarah's novels operate in a magical/realist landscape and that chance meeting and coincidence can turn the story round: I find it interesting that we accept coincidences in life but not fiction and I find it fascinating that chance plays such a huge role in our lives but some people insist that there is no place for it in the novel - go back to reading non-fiction I say and leave us dreamers alone.
The characters are wonderfully loveable, the storyline tugs the heart strings, and the art, history and Italian geography knowledge is a joy to behold.
I can honestly say this is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in years. So much so I've since purchased more from Sarah Winman and I am currently enjoying When God was a rabbit. I highly recommend Still life, well worth a read.