Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Still Life with Bread Crumbs," by Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen’s novels are always intelligent, moving, and entertaining. Some might say they “go down easy” and that is probably a fair characterization, but belies what a gift it is to be able to write fiction of that quality. Quindlen never disappoints, and I for one have read, and will read, whatever she writes. Her latest (2014) novel is “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” and I happily listened to it on CD in my car over a couple of recent weeks. I love the heroine of this novel, artist Rebecca Winter. I love that she is 60ish, and torn between feeling, on the one hand, very vital and, on the other hand, feeling over the hill, both in her art (photography) and in her personal life. She is worried about money, especially since she supports, in varying degrees, her elderly mother and father as well as her young son. To save money, she rents out her New York City apartment and takes a one year lease on a cabin in the woods a couple of hours away from the city. The cabin turns out to be less than ideal, but gradually Rebecca makes a life for herself there. She finds important objects to photograph, meets quirky local residents, develops a relationship with a new man, survives getting snowed in for several days, and acquires a dog. Various events complicate matters, of course. I won’t tell you the ending, but let’s say that she has some satisfying (for her, and for us readers) new success in both her professional and personal life.

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