It is the unlikeliest of connections - Ulysses Temper, a young British soldier and Evelyn Skinner, a sixty-four-year-old art historian - and in the unlikeliest of meeting places - the wine cellar of a Tuscan villa that is being bombed towards the end of WWII.
But it is a connection that has a profound effect on Ulysses in the decades ahead as he and his friends and family create a new life in Florence, far from London's East End.
Celebrating beauty, love and art, this satisfying story of Ulysses and Evelyn's intertwined lives is brimming with beautifully drawn characters living life to the full.
We agreed the book was 'over-written', too much detail, and too long in reaching the much hinted at meeting up of the art historian and the young soldier who met initially. Interesting detail on the 1966 disastrous flood.
Very difficult to read without speech marks. Interesting history of Florence. Some interesting and likeable characters. Long, slow read.
We all loved it - a feel good book, beautifully written. An empathetic portrayal on acceptance of different foibles as being human.
Universally applauded for its brilliant devices, the tapestry of interwoven characters and themes. Subtle humour, earthiness, brilliant dialogues and description. "One of the best novels we have EVER read and discussed".
All loved the characters - some discussion about homosexuality laws. All those who had been to Florence found it brought back a lot of memories.
The majority of the group really enjoyed this book and our discussion was lively and interesting. We explored the theme of 'still life' and what it meant in the context of the story. The characters were well drawn and quirky. Great read for most.
Loved it! A well-written, easy to read novel. Lovely characters that we really enjoyed getting to know.
We liked the title because of the multiple meanings. Everyone liked Ulysses for his eternal optimism, loyalty and kindness - Claude was also a favourite! Classical and art references well researched, and gay relationships unremarkable.
Enjoyed the depiction/description of Florence and the well researched art history, but felt she crammed too much in. Perhaps more editing was needed.
A wide range of responses - from not enjoying it at all to finding it funny, moving and interesting. Also very diverse responses to her writing style - from enjoying the activity of reading and enjoying her sentences so much it merited re-reading, to finding it 'indigestible'.
Most loved this book. Great characters and descriptions of Florence. Some thought it was made up of bits and pieces, but it did come together well.
Four of the group (me included) absolutely loved this book. I read half of it in two days, and then had to put it aside as I didn't want it to end. Well-written.
Most members who read the book loved it - the characters, the parrot, descriptions of Florence and the links with real events such as the Florence floods. Great research. Two were unable to 'get into' the book, but generally a great read. We'll be looking for more by Sarah Winman.
Most really enjoyed 'Still Life'. The large number of characters took a bit of getting used to, as did the lack of punctuation, italics etc. Several had been to Florence either just before the flood or soon after. Several had also done some Art History - interesting!
All except two members adored 'Still Life'. We had a very lively discussion about favourite characters, and incidents, and the place of lesbian writing today.
We all enjoyed this book. Loved the Italian background which brought back great memories for several of us. And we liked very much the 'feel good' sensibility of the storyline and the characters. The art material was also interesting.
3 loved it, 1 didn't 'get into it' because got confused with lack of speech marks. Most found it a slow start but good once into it. We enjoyed the characters.
Our Group absolutely loved this book. On of the best. Beautifully crafted. Highly recommended.
All but one of our members enjoyed this book. We thought that the author had a lot of characters, but all were developed well as the story developed. Cress was the favourite character of most of us, and we all enjoyed the parrot. Overall an enjoyable read and it developed into a "must get this finished" reading binge.
The first few pages don't really grab but after a few pages you sort out the characters and are hooked. Lack of speech marks was a little annoying, however an enjoyable read.
Half our group loved this book and half couldn't relate to it. 6 of us LOVED the writing and humour. Lovely story of friends who care for each other and lived their lives.
We shared mixed feelings about the book. Some people got only to the 1st part (still in London) and others who kept reading really enjoyed it.
It was an artwork, full of life, friendship, art, food, poetry and literacy.
This book is beautifully written, bringing smells and tastes of Italy to the reader spanning thirty years of the lives of a group of wonderfully drawn disparate characters.
A long book (for book club) as Sarah Winman gave a lot of details, but a great getaway book.
Most loved this. Characters 'well drawn' and very well developed relationships. Quite 'lilting' in the way it is written with some very realistic male conversations. Rather fantastical in many ways.