Book Review: Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel by Anna Quindlen

Author: Sherry Helms

AnnaAfter publishing her memoir, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, The New York Times Bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen is back to her novel form. Her seventh novel, Still Life With Bread Crumbs” is an amazing story offers an emotive glimpse into the inner life of a late-middle-aged woman, Rebecca Winter, who seeks renewals and finds that the life is more exciting than she ever imagined.

The story starts with a 60-year-old photographer, Rebecca Winter, who separated from her philandering husband. Once, with her amazing domestic-themed photography, “Still Life with Bread Crumbs,” she revered as a feminist icon, but now years later, her career is descendent, her income is stale and her fame is waned. She needs money for the care of her aged parents and for her mother’s nursing home fees. Denuded of self-confidence, Rebecca rent out her New York apartment and relocated to a cabin in rural New York to save some money and to find a place where she can reignite her creative spark. There she meets a 40-year old attractive, amiable local roofer, Jim Bates, who helps her with the challenges of moving into the new place and instructs her that everything she looks through camera lens isn’t always what is real.

Exceptionally written and impressively realistic, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a touching and often hilarious narrative of a woman re-inventing herself. Each turning chapter lends the reader into the path Rebecca walks. Anna Quindlen has drawn a marvelously complex character in Rebecca, whose life framed-out like photography needing clarification, signifying her downfall after success. A woman of great depth and one who begins to internalize the qualms that have held her back, and finding peace with her aging father, her cold, demented mother, her son, Ben, and most of all herself.

With her astuteness, Quindlen has written a story that not only presents Rebecca’s year-long adventure but also provides an intimate look at the pivotal aspects of life such as solitude, love, defeat, decisions and joys. Through this novel, she teaches us that we should appreciate life in all its imperfection and we must have trust in ourselves and our talents.

This delightful novel allows you to explore yourself and to know who you are rather than what others expect you to be. The author has beautifully captured both the elegance and frailty of family life in the novel. Wrapped in a pleasant story – this is an emotionally rich and encouraging novel tells that the life doesn’t end at 60, or at 75. Moreover, the beautifully developed and realistic characters of the novel stay with you even after the book is over.

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