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Still Life  By  cover art

Still Life

By: Sarah Winman
Narrated by: Sarah Winman
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Publisher's Summary

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick | A Veranda Magazine Book Club Pick 

A captivating, bighearted, richly tapestried story of people brought together by love, war, art, flood, and the ghost of E. M. Forster, by the celebrated author of Tin Man.

Tuscany, 1944: As Allied troops advance and bombs fall around deserted villages, a young English soldier, Ulysses Temper, finds himself in the wine cellar of a deserted villa. There, he has a chance encounter with Evelyn Skinner, a middle-aged art historian who has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and recall long-forgotten memories of her own youth. In each other, Ulysses and Evelyn find a kindred spirit amidst the rubble of war-torn Italy, and set off on a course of events that will shape Ulysses's life for the next four decades.

As Ulysses returns home to London, re-immersing himself in his crew at The Stoat and Parot—a motley mix of pub crawlers and eccentrics—he carries his time in Italy with him. And when an unexpected inheritance brings him back to where it all began, Ulysses knows better than to tempt fate, and returns to the Tuscan hills.

With beautiful prose, extraordinary tenderness, and bursts of humor and light, Still Life is a sweeping portrait of unforgettable individuals who come together to make a family, and a deeply drawn celebration of beauty and love in all its forms.

©2021 Sarah Winman (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Winner of the InWords Literary Award

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick

A Veranda Magazine Book Club Pick

A Parade Best Book of the Year

One of:

The Millions's Most Anticipated Books of 2021

Bookbub's The Best Historical Fiction to Read This Fall

Parade’s 25 Books We’ve Loved Reading This Fall

Parade's Best Book of the Year

Veranda's 25 Best New Books for Fall 2021

Lit Hub’s Best Books of the Week November 

"A tonic for wanderlust and a cure for loneliness. It’s that rare, affectionate novel that makes one feel grateful to have been carried along. Unfurling with no more hurry than a Saturday night among old friends, the story celebrates the myriad ways love is expressed and families are formed….Endlessly charming...The novel never feels anything less than captivating because Winman creates such a flawless illusion of spontaneity, an atmosphere capable of sustaining these characters’ macabre wit, comedy of manners and poignant longing." —The Washington Post 

“The incredible storytelling, lovable characters, and sweeping settings make this novel an absolute delight, proving that serious fiction does not have to be only dark and depressing.” —Real Simple

“Sarah Winman’s sweeping Still Life is a parade of small stories, intimate connections and complex characters whose lives illuminate the tedium and cataclysms of the 20th century. . . . The real magic of Still Life is the elevation of the ordinary, the unabashed consecration of human experiences. . . . Sentence after sentence, character by character, Still Life becomes poetry.” —New York Times Book Review

What listeners say about Still Life

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  • Overall
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Almost a DNF

Oh. Boy. I don’t even know where to start. First of all the author writes beautifully. Her descriptions and wording of sentences is lovely, so I don’t want to discredit that. It’s a novel about a bunch of friends making their way through life from the end of WW2-1980. The author is also the narrator so she knows exactly how she wants to come across. At times her words were like a whisper and along with her accent, I could not make some of them out. After about hour 10, I had stopped caring at all about these characters and literally just heard, blah, blah, blah This book is slow, long, laborious and ultimately boring for me. To each his own, I suppose, but I’m so glad this is finally finished. Never again.

5 people found this helpful

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Overrated, IMHO. Long, rambling, cheesy

I don't get all the raves. The writing is solid insofar as descriptions, metaphors, etc. are lovely. But the "plot" just doesn't do it for me. It rambles, and I was glad when it finally wrapped up. There's not really a point, just a lot of characters and an almost Latin-American-literature-style magical realism that seems out of place with the rest of the book (a Shakespeare-quoting, conversational parrot, talking trees, a character with prognosticating visions). It's about relationships and life, I get that, but the overt sentimentality grated for me, and the many profound pronouncements got old. It felt like it was trying too hard to be meaningful, poetic, deep, whatever. Again, IMHO. To each their own. Also, I have no problem with gay and lesbian characters, but it seemed a remarkable number of the characters and minor side-characters just happened to be homosexual even though setting, period, etc. wouldn't suggest that would be the predominant community at hand so that people would be so open with/discerning about strangers. It was more distracting than anything for me, wondering at the author's motivation, book marketing, etc. The narrator is excellent. Oh well, not bad, just not my thing.

5 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, just beautiful

This book is deep and emotional from start to finish. The narration is perfect. You will fall in love with every character in this book. I’m going to read it again and again!!

4 people found this helpful

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A love letter to Florence Italy

This story is full of memorable characters both lovable and annoying all of whom will break your heart at some point. The author is the narrator. I have rarely found that satisfactory but in this case perfection. She could easily become a professional narrator if her muse deserts her. I hope that doesn’t happen. She has a gift of gently expressing things so tenderly that I felt spellbound at times. More please.

3 people found this helpful

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Fabulous story, brilliantly written, superbly performed

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year! I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, good development of characters and a little whimsy.

3 people found this helpful

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One of the best!

I rarely reread books but I believe I will listen to this again one day
It was wonderful!

2 people found this helpful

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Impossible listen

This story could be interesting. I listen to half of the first chapter. It takes so much my attention to figure out if it’s Evelyn who is speaking or Margaret who is speaking. They seem to go in and out of each others accents. It’s terrible I’m sorry but I will send this back. I think two narrators fir the two different women would be really nice.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful

Beautifully written and read by the author. The second it ended I wanted to restart it.

1 person found this helpful

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A wonderful experience

I loved this novel. Sarah Winman did an excellent job of narration. I wonder if she has an acting background? The characters are memorable, one of the most important ones being the city of Florence. If the pandemic ever permits travel again, I will listen to the novel again while in Firenze.

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Wonderful Story!

I enjoyed this story, and the telling, very much. Great characters, beautifully woven together. The author's reading really brought each person to life. The way their lives intertwine, so creative. I was hooked from the very beginning, and couldn't wait for time to listen each day.

1 person found this helpful