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A Novel by the New York Times Bestselling Author


Description, Categories and Awards


"NEW YORK TIMES "BESTSELLER A superb love story from Anna Quindlen, the #1" New York Times" bestselling author of" Rise and Shine, Blessings, "and" A Short Guide to a Happy Life" "Still Life with Bread Crumbs" begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life. Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, "Still Life with Bread Crumbs" is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined. Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more. "There comes a moment in every novelist's career when she . . . ventures into new territory, breaking free into a marriage of tone and style, of plot and characterization, that's utterly her own. Anna Quindlen's marvelous romantic comedy of manners is just such a book. . . . Taken as a whole, Quindlen's writings represent a generous and moving interrogation of women's experience across the lines of class and race. ["Still Life with Bread Crumbs"] proves all the more moving because of its light, sophisticated humor. Quindlen's least overtly political novel, it packs perhaps the most serious punch. . . . Quindlen has delivered a novel that will have staying power all its own."--"The New York Times Book Review" "[A] wise tale about second chances, starting over, and going after what is most important in life."--Minneapolis "Star Tribune" "Quindlen's astute observations . . . are the sorts of details every writer and reader lives for.""--Chicago Tribune" "[Anna] Quindlen's seventh novel offers the literary equivalent of comfort food. . . . She still has her finger firmly planted on the pulse of her generation."--NPR "Enchanting . . . [The protagonist's] photographs are celebrated for turning the 'minutiae of women's lives into unforgettable images, ' and Quindlen does the same here with her enveloping, sure-handed storytelling."--"People" "Charming . . . a hot cup of tea of a story, smooth and comforting about the vulnerabilities of growing older . . . a pleasure."--"USA Today" "With spare, elegant prose, [Quindlen] crafts a poignant glimpse into the inner life of an aging woman who discovers that reality contains much more color than her own celebrated black-and-white images."--"Library Journal" "Quindlen has always excelled at capturing telling details in a story, and she does so again in this quiet, powerful novel, showing the charged emotions that teem beneath the surface of daily life."--"Publishers Weekly" "Quindlen presents instantly recognizable characters who may be appealingly warm and nonthreatening, but that only serves to drive home her potent message that it's never too late to embrace life's second chances."--"Booklist" "Profound . . . engaging."--"Kirkus Reviews" "From the Trade Paperback edition."
I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book.

Rebecca Winter is a successful photographer whose career is diminishing. She leaves NYC to rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere. In this small town she meets Jim Bates, a roofer who helps her recover from her past life. I found this story beautiful and moving. Anna Quindlen's writing is poetic. The characters are funny and real. This would be a good book club pick.

When you are more than half way through a book and it just begins to get interesting you wonder how on earth can this be a best seller. Yes, it did pick up in the last 100 pages but nothing was so interesting that it was truly worth sharing in a review. The characters are shallow and very non descriptive. The story line dull. I just didn't find it appealing. Disappointed.

I have been a fan of Anna Quindlen from the time I discovered her New York Times "Life In the 30s" column. Although to this day I have not found a book that has affected me more than One True Thing, Anna Quindlen's recent fiction has not appealed to me. Still Life with Bread Crumbs took me completely by surprise. I just loved it.

Rebecca Winter is a well known photographer who earned her fame from spontaneously photographing dirty stacked plates and glasses after a dinner party in her home when she was in her thirties. Though she sky-rocketed to fame and earned a substantial income, when the novel opens Rebecca is 60 years old and down-on-her-luck. She is divorced from her distant, self-absorbed arrogant, husband. Her bank account has dwindled and she no longer can afford her upscale NYC lifestyle. With a difficult mother in a nursing home suffering from dementia, a father in a separate apartment with home health care, a son scraping by financially, and she responsible for them all, Rebecca decides to sublet her New York apartment for an exorbitant amount and lease for one year a cottage in a secluded area not unlike parts of upstate NY. Though daunting, Rebecca rediscoveres herself, and though isolated, managed to connect to the community and establish true friendships in a far more meaningful way than when she lived in the bustling, populated city.

It is a pleasure to read such a gifted writer. Not only does she paint vivid pictures with her words, but the quality of her prose is impressive. In this novel, her imagery of nature and the force of the elements though life-threatening was at the same time homey and inviting. Though Rebecca is forced find her inner strength by battling the elements and her own demons, there is something incredibly soothing about this book.

I enjoyed the characters and found them completely relatable, with the exception of the age difference between the two main characters. I didn't find that it enhanced the story in any way, and in fact, might have detracted from it, for this reader at least.

That being said, I highly recommend Still Life with Bread Crumbs. It should not be missed.

Sixty year old Rebecca Winter’s Warholian fifteen minutes of fame have elapsed and she is now struggling financially to keep her head above the proverbial water-line. With payments being made for maintenance of the New York flat, nursing home charges where her dementia suffering mother resides and rent for her father’s flat, she decides to lease her high rent New York apartment and rent a ramshackle cottage in an unspecified rural community in the New York State.
Rebecca Winter is a photographer who became well known for a series of photographs entitled The Kitchen Counter series, one of those being known as Still Life with Breadcrumbs. As Rebecca tries to engage with her new surroundings more often than not through hikes in the nearby woodland, she encounters small white crosses with various pieces of memorabilia next to them. As she begins to hunt the woodland for more of these crosses and photograph what she finds she meets Jim Bates sitting on a platform built into the branches of a tree, watching birds of prey and holding what looks like a gun.
This is not a book about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is not a book about a woman going through a mid-life crisis. It would be very easy and very lazy to read the inside book jacket and come to either of the above conclusions but that would be doing a huge disservice to the author and this book. If the reader was to simply skim read their way through this book, that reader, though enjoying the book, would be missing the myriad of levels and nuances that permeate the book.
Still Life with Breadcrumbs is as elegant and intimate as an Annie Leibovitz photograph but also has the truthfulness of a Diane Arbus.

“ ...”You’re Lucky”, Rebecca had been suspicious of the sentiment, and the intervening years had proved her correct. You’re so lucky, to the couple at an anniversary party who, in private, scarcely spoke. You’re so lucky, to the young mother who heard a stirring and cry at night from the crib and swore she would lose her mind. Lucky from the outside was an illusion.”

(Page 89)

Rebecca Winter attempts to make sense of the world, to define her world, through the lens of her camera. The camera acts as a buffer to the real world beyond her aperture. When photographing the white crosses with their accompanying pieces of memorabilia, trophy, plaster cast of a handprint etc she thinks only in terms of composition, framing, and light. She doesn’t ask why the crosses and memorabilia are there or what they represent. And this thinking occasionally bleeds into her other parts of her life as well and in so doing she misses out on what life has to offer.
Anna Quindlen has an unerring ability to flesh out her characters without appearing to write very much about them. Her style of writing appears deceptively easy and with the least amount of effort. However, as one reads the words the reader finds themselves breathing the same air as the characters; one feels the characters becoming part of one’s DNA.
I will finish the review with a wonderful passage on page 104 that will help display Anna Quindlen’s wonderful prose.

“There are two kinds of men: men who want a wife who is predictable, and men who want a wife who is exotic. For some reason, Peter had thought she was the latter. But even if that had been the case, the problem inherent remains the same – once she becomes a wife, the exotic becomes familiar, and thus predictable, and thus not what was wanted at all. Those few women who stayed exotic usually were considered, after a few years, to be crazy.”

(Page 104)

Number of Pages – 252
Sex Scenes – None
Profanity – None
Genre - Fiction


Still Life with Bread Crumbs