Title: Still Life With Bread Crumbs
Author: Anna Quindlen
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
Number of pages: 272 pages
First line: A few minutes after two in the morning Rebecca Winter woke to the sound of a gunshot and sat up in bed.
Goodreads blurb: 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.
I have never been disappointed in an Anna Quindlen book. She is one of the rare authors who can write fiction and non-fiction with equal ease, talent, and grace. And one of the things I love best about her is that she writes about women who are older. In the case of Still Life With Bread Crumbs, we have a sixty-something year old woman who is experiencing a downturn in her career and her personal life, and needs to reinvent herself. Only she doesn’t know she needs to change anything; she has come to live in a cottage in the country in order to rent out her New York apartment for a huge amount that will help her get out of financial difficulty. She sees it as a temporary move until she can get back to her “real life.”
The great thing about Rebecca, and all of Quindlen’s female protagonists, is that they are normal women. During the course of her novels, each one undergoes a transformation. Sometimes the transformation is prompted by a sudden event, like in Every Last One, but sometimes the catalyst is simply the seasons and rhythms of life, which is what you find in Still Life With Bread Crumbs. Rebecca is going through things that many women her age go through: dealing with and caring for aging parents, wondering if there is love in her future after a divorce, negotiating a relationship with her adult son, finding a new direction for her career. And she is dealing with all of these things while in a place that is completely unfamiliar to her. Her journey is a sympathetic one, often humorous, and one that is a joy to follow.