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Book Review

‘Still Life with Bread Crumbs’ keeps it simple

3/12/2014

bookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Sally Wisdom

Random House

Jan. 28, 2014

$26

HIV

252 pp.

For nearly 40 years, Anna Quindlen has written columns, essays and novels that examine the complexity of human interaction and have special appeal to women of the baby boomer generation. Her newest novel, “Still Life with Bread Crumbs,” which follows her 2012 memoir “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” is no exception.

Sixty-year-old art photographer Rebecca Winter has sublet her Manhattan apartment and retreated to a ramshackle cottage in the country, less to re-create herself than to save money. Once renowned for detailed photographs of domestic life, she struggles to revive a career she insists was the result of capturing images that were random rather than planned. Reluctantly, she agrees to join a handsome roofer, 16 years her junior, in a tree stand to take pictures for the state wildlife department. As they become better acquainted, her life takes turns she had not anticipated.

This novel could easily have been reduced to a formulaic romance: A sophisticated urban woman meets a country boy; a misunderstanding that neither could have helped drives them apart; they discover the mistake, re-unite; and everything is perhaps a little too neatly tidied up in the end. In Quindlen’s deft hands, though, the story is more nuanced and includes a supporting cast of interesting, multi-dimensional characters and descriptions as vivid as Rebecca’s photographs. Readers from Quindlen’s customary demographic group will relate to Rebecca’s connection with her 20-something son, empathize with her angst over her aging parents and delight in her stumbling on romance. CV

Sally Wisdom retired from the Des Moines Public Library in 2011and found her dream job at Beaverdale Books soon after.

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