Sarah Winman, again, graces us with her storytelling, adorning the lives of people who have never been, yet somehow leave an impression on our hearts and minds as if they were close personal friends.
Still Life: A Novel by Sarah Winman, G.P. Putnam's Sons
When I read Sarah Winman’s first novel, Tin Man, (you can read the Tin Man review here) I was beside myself at how beautiful and moving her writing and the story were, so as soon as I saw Still Life pop up, I knew it had to be added to my reading queue. This new title does not fail to impress. Set mostly in Italy during the second World War, we follow several characters, Ulysses, Evelyn, Peg, and many other colorful personalities we first meet within a hole in the wall pub in London, The Stoat and Parrot, Ulysses works for after returning from the war.
During his time in the war, Ulysses meets the eccentric Evelyn, an art historian, who came to the battlegrounds around Tuscany to save works of art. Here she speaks about why art is so important to protect during times of war:
Our turmoil is revealed in those painted faces—sometimes tenderly, sometimes grotesquely, but art becomes a mirror. All the symbolism and the paradox, ours to interpret. That’s how it becomes part of us. And as counterpoint to our suffering, we have beauty.
She leaves an impression on the young Ulysses that stays with him for a lifetime. After an unanticipated inheritance of a large sum of money, Ulysses decides to go back to the hills of Tuscany where so many memories reside for him, where it all began.
This book, like Tin Man, is wrapped around the complications, the delicacies, the pure raw emotion and allure of intimate relationships and our often unforeseen but deep connections with others. Sarah Winman, again, graces us with her storytelling, adorning the lives of people who have never been, yet somehow leave an impression on our hearts and minds as if they were close personal friends. We walk with them through what our lives inevitably bring, whether that be destruction, loss, love, or the stories that reflect it all and foster a sense of beauty along the journey.