Book review

Still Life

Sarah Winman

In a few words

A wonderful story set in Florence, Italy — full of art, humour and characters you'll grow to love like family!

Great for

Those who enjoy a slow paced book with beautiful writing and fantastic characters.

Why I love this book

It was a perfect Summer read for our book group as I could slow down and immerse myself in the beautiful Florence setting and invest in these larger-than-life characters. I loved the different settings, contrasted between a community around the local pub in London and then life centred around a peaceful square in Florence.

This story has two main threads which follow Ulysses Temper, a young British soldier and Evelyn Skinner, a 64 year old art historian who have a brief chance encounter in Italy towards the end of WW2. Both go their separate ways and return to their very different lives but throughout the book you see how their friendship was forged and all the close encounters that lead them to be happily reunited in the end. 

The characters in this book were my absolute highlight! This interesting group of friends — ranging from some complete hot heads, (including a talking parrot) to some calming, insightful souls and how they all relied on each other and became like a family. So full of life and humour, and so beautifully described, I could imagine all of them and was definitely emotionally invested!  I also enjoyed the historical details included, like the terrible flood of 1966 in Florence and the impacts of the flood and of war on art history and the loss and restoration of many Italian Renaissance masterpieces. 

My one criticism would be

Our book group didn't enjoy the very final part of the book as much as the rest, (based on Evelyn's back story) but it did inspire us to read A Room with a View as our next classic book. Which to me is a sign of a good book — inspiring you to get stuck into the next one!  Some in my group found the pace a little slow — and it is definitely a big read — so don't try to rush this book, but if you have the time it's well worth it. 

Aimee Bloy

Book Dispatch

Aimee likes to read a variety of genres and styles and this is reflected in her book group's choices: Each year they try to include a mix of fiction and non-fiction, a New Zealand author and a classic.

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