Musings From A Bookmammal


Musing Mondays–A New Favorite Novel

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Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

still life with breadcrumbsI think I’ve found a new favorite novel.

For some reason I kept putting off reading Still Life With Breadcrumbs, and I’m not sure why. Anna Quindlen is one of my “automatic authors”—I’ll read anything she writes. I adore her collections of essays—I often feel that she’s speaking directly to me–and her last novel, Every Last One, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past several years. But when Still Life came out this past January, I kept moving it to the bottom of the TBR pile. I even had checked it out from the library once before, but had to return it unread. So many books, so little time . . . you know the deal.

For whatever reason, I decided to check it out from the library again. I had the day off from work on Friday and decided to give it a try–and from the very first chapter I was sucked in. I was only about 50 pages in when I knew I was going to love this book.

I really didn’t know much about the plot of this novel, and I think that’s the best way to go into it—part of the appeal of this book was that I really had no idea where the characters were headed. But very briefly, it tells the story of Rebecca Winter, a sixty-year-old photographer who experienced huge artistic success years before. For various reasons, she decides to spend some time in a rental house in a small town near her NYC home-base. She forms relationships with her new neighbors and we also learn about her relationships with her elderly parents, her ex-husband, and her adult son.

It seems to me that Anna Quindlen found a new voice when crafting this novel—the narrative is unlike any of her others. The chapters—some only a few paragraphs or a page or two, many longer–move fluidly back and forth between the main characters and pivotal events. There was a lot of very subtle humor woven throughout, and I quickly decided that this was a book I really needed to savor in order to appreciate the writing. I felt invested in what happened to every character, and the dialogue rang true—which is always a deal-breaker for me. And when I got to the end, I immediately thought “I wonder what’s going to happen next!”

I think this is a very understated book—if you’re looking for a novel with huge cliffhangers,  dramatic reveals, or big action scenes, this isn’t going to fill that need. I guess it could be called a slice-of-life novel—and that’s one of the reasons that I found the story to be so believable. Some reviewers have criticized the book for that very reason, but to me it’s what made the plot and characters so relatable. Isn’t that what real life is like for us most of the time?

I’m going to be thinking about the characters in this book for quite awhile, I’ll be buying my own copy to add to my Quindlen collection, and I predict that it will end up on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. I’m so glad that I finally made time for this novel! If you’re in the mood for a realistic, contemporary book featuring a strong, flawed, relatable female character, I suggest that you give Still Life With Breadcrumbs a try.

How about you? Have you read this book? What was the last book you read that you knew would become a favorite? Please share!