Published by Random House, January 2014
Over the past few decades I’ve enjoyed reading Anna Quindlen’s writing. Primarily, I’ve read her newspaper columns and nonfiction. I can only recall reading one of her novels (Every Last One). Still Life With Breadcrumbs caught my attention because the main character is sixty. The author is just a couple years older and I thought it might be reflective of her own life.
What It’s About:
Rebecca Winters has been a very successful photographer. Her photos are treated as fine art. She’s always lived well in New York City. Financially and professionally, her life has been going downhill for quite some time.
As the story opens we learn she’s been forced to rent out her very nice apartment in Manhattan and move to a rustic cabin in the country. With seamless flashbacks we learn all about Rebecca – her marriage and it’s failure, her parents, her son, her agent, and her career.
Being in the country is hard for Rebecca. There are so many things wrong with the rented cabin and she feels out of sorts being away from the city. It takes her awhile, but she starts hiking into the hills and looking closely at the country around her. The subjects of her photographs begin to change.
Gradually, Rebecca makes the best of her situation. She meets a younger man, Jim Bates, who helps her out. There’s also a woman in the small town who bakes the best scones and becomes a good friend.
I didn’t like Rebecca at first. She seemed focused too much on the material aspects of her life. She also seemed to be very sorry for herself. Fortunately, she had a lot of time for self-examination. As she thought about her past life and began to focus on her new surroundings, I gradually began to like her.
Last Monday was the author’s birthday and GoodReads featured one of her quotes that was the theme of Rebecca’s experience in this novel.
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
The book ended on a satisfactory and upbeat note. I liked that. There’s no doubt that Quindlen is an excellent writer. I’m quite comfortable in recommending Still Life With Breadcrumbs to you.