I think I’ve got a bit of a reading-crush on Anna Quindlen. I read Miller’s Valley earlier this year and loved it, then followed up with Still Life With Bread Crumbs, which I also enjoyed. I’m obviously not alone, my copy of this book says Anna Quindlen is a “#1 New York Times bestselling author.”
Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a very different book to Miller’s Valley, although both stories are about what their homes mean to people. Still Life With Bread Crumbs is the story of a photographer, Rebecca Winter, who lets out her New York apartment and goes to live in the back of beyond in an attempt to survive financially.
Rebecca is 60 and feels as if she is a has-been. Her work, particularly a series of photos named ‘Still Life With Bread Crumbs’ which she took of the aftermath of a dinner party, was enormously successful, to the point of Rebecca almost becoming an icon, but of more recent years commercial interest in her photographs has dried up. Her husband has long since left her for another woman, (although he was no great loss in my opinion).
Living in the back of beyond after being a New Yorker all of her life, Rebecca befriends a dog, a chatty café owner and a roofer named Jim who regularly rescues her from rip-off artists, raccoons in her roof and, most importantly, supplies her with venison. Jim also gets Rebecca a job photographing birds for the state wildlife authority. Their friendship eventually becomes a love affair.
Also in the back of beyond, Rebecca rediscovers her passion for art, for life and for love. As a result, she sorts herself out financially and emotionally. This review is coming out a bit soppy, but Still Life With Bread Crumbs is not a soppy book. I’m just a soppy reviewer.
Still Life With Breadcrumbs had the same quiet feeling that I enjoyed so much in Miller’s Valley. The characters in both novels understand that life has slow moments and they don’t try to change that. There were things about the book which annoyed me, for example; Rebecca’s finances. She doesn’t know where her next ten dollars is coming from half the time, but she owns an apartment in New York. Maybe this is easy for me to say, but surely downsizing would have solved all of her problems. Also, there was the age thing between Rebecca and Jim. She is 60 and he is 44. Not a big deal I would have thought, but Rebecca carries on a bit before succumbing to Jim’s charms.
While reading, I realised that while I understood that I was reading fiction, I believed in the art work. I actually intended to ‘Google’ Rebecca’s work, ‘Still Life With Bread Crumbs’. I liked believing in the story and will continue looking out for other books by Anna Quindlen.