Still Life

Sarah Winman. Putnam, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-33075-3
Winman’s lush fourth novel (after Tin Man) begins with a chance meeting in Tuscany in 1944 between a British art historian and an army private. Evelyn Skinner, 64, befriends 24-year-old Ulysses Temper while holed up in a wine cellar as bombs fall. Their paths soon diverge, but Evelyn’s suggestion that Ulysses revisit Florence on his own makes a lasting impact. In 1946 London, where Ulysses is now a civilian in a fractured relationship with Peg—the hometown girl he married before the war—the reader meets Alys, the daughter Peg had with an American soldier she met during her husband’s absence, and the endearing London pub friends who become Ulysses’s family, some of whom eventually join him in Italy in the early 1950s. After the war, Evelyn shuttles between Kent and Bloomsbury, teaching art history and spending time with devoted female lovers. Ulysses and Evelyn finally reconnect in Florence 22 years after their first meeting. Winman covers much ground, including the devastating 1966 flood of the Arno, a cameo appearance by E.M. Forster, and many rich sections about art, relationships and the transcendent beauty of Tuscany, and while it occasionally feels like two novels stitched into one, for the most part it hangs together. Readers will enjoy this paean to the power of love and art. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/27/2021
Release date: 11/02/2021
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-7352-4141-1
Paperback - 640 pages - 978-0-593-45967-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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