“Rebecca Winter” remains a household name, thanks to the iconic photograph “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” that catapulted her art career into the public eye. But Rebecca Winter, the person, has changed significantly in the decades since she captured that domestic image of her kitchen counter after her husband and son retired for the evening. She’s no longer married, for one. And it’s been so long since she made a significant sale that she can no longer afford the upscale Manhattan apartment that contains the kitchen immortalized in that famous picture.
As a result, the 60-year-old Rebecca feels adrift when she sublets her home and moves into a rented cottage in rural New York. Each time a royalty check hits her bank account, the couple-hundred-dollar deposit leaves her feeling momentarily rich. Some other people in the small town are familiar with “Still Life” and consider Rebecca something of a celebrity, but she is often left to her own thoughts. That solitude gives Rebecca plenty of time to figure out whether her camera is still the best way to share what she sees with the world—and to determine who she is outside of the context of high-end art galleries and New York City.
In Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen deconstructs the typical form of a novel. Chapters toggle between Rebecca’s present and the formative moments that brought her here, with each chapter title lending insight into the path Rebecca walks. The result is refreshing pacing; the story doesn’t unfold in linear fashion, but in bits and pieces at a time.
Still Life is a journey of self-exploration, of getting to know who you are rather than who others expect you to be. It’s a meditation on art, age and commercialism wrapped up in a delightful story—perhaps the best-selling author’s finest novel yet.
Read our interview with Anna Quindlen about this book.
Photographer Rebecca Winter was once famed worldwide for images like Still Life with Bread Crumbs, for which she is best known. But now her success has faded, as has her income, and she's sublet her big-city apartment and moved to a cabin in the woods. A need for home repairs leads her to roofer Jim Bates, and by the novel's closing pages she has love, a new view of the world, and a shiny tin roof. Upbeat romance from the socially astute Quindlen; with an eight-city tour.[Page 49]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Formerly a world-famous photographer, Rebecca Winter is past her prime and out of her element. Her photographs are yesterday's news, her family has fallen apart, and her bank balance is inching toward negative numbers. When she can no longer afford her luxurious Manhattan apartment, Rebecca sublets and moves to a small cabin in the middle of nowhere, on a road that has no name. Away from the noise and clatter of the city, she finds peace in a quiet country life, inspiration in the form of mysterious shrines she discovers hidden deep in the woods, and unexpected love with a husky roofer 30 years her junior. VERDICT Pulitzer Prize winner Quindlen has made a home at the top of the best sellers lists with novels that capture the grace and frailty of everyday life (Object Lessons; Blessings), 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. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/13.]--Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY[Page 81]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Quindlen's seventh novel, following Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, is a detailed exploration of creativity and the need for connection. Rebecca Winter is a 60-year-old photographer, once revered as a feminist icon, whose work isn't selling as briskly as it used to. She needs a fresh start after her marriage falls apart because her husband trades her in for a younger model (as he does every 10 years). She rents a cabin in the country while subletting her beloved New York City apartment, needing both the money and the space in which to find her creative spark again. Jim Bates, a local roofer who helps her with the challenges of moving into the cottage, becomes a new friend, as does a dog that seems to prefer living with her rather than with its neglectful owner. Rebecca also finds new objects to photograph in the series of homemade wooden crosses she discovers during hikes in the surrounding woods, without realizing their connection to a tragedy in Jim's life. 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. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC