THE INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF DYMOCKS BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BEST BOOK OF 2021
A BBC BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB PICK
WINNER OF THE INWORDS LITERARY AWARD
‘Sheer joy' Graham Norton
‘Utterly beautiful … filled with hope’ Joanna Cannon, author of Three Things About Elsie
’A gorgeous, generous story of kind hearts and kindred spirits’ Daily Mirror
From the author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a big-hearted story of the families we forge and the friendships that make us.
1944, Italy. As bombs fall around them, two strangers meet in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa and share an extraordinary evening.
Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner a 64-year-old art historian living life on her own terms. She has come to salvage paintings from the wreckage of war and relive memories of her youth when her heart was stolen by an Italian maid in a particular room with a view. Ulysses’ chance encounter with Evelyn will transform his life – and all those who love him back home in London – forever.
Uplifting, sweeping and full of unforgettable characters, Still Life is a novel about beauty, love, family and friendship.
‘THE most beautiful book … it will stay with me a long time’ Sara Cox, BBC Two’s Between the Covers
‘Extraordinary . . . my book of the year’ Liz Nugent, author of Our Little Cruelties
‘Moving, wise, poetic and funny’ Daily Mail
‘Winman’s pages teem with boisterous, exuberant life’ Sunday Times
Sunday Times bestseller 09/06/2021
About the author
Sarah Winman is author of When God Was a Rabbit, A Year of Marvellous Ways and Tin Man. She lives in London.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you’ve ever read Sarah Winman’s rich, deeply immersive novels, you’ll know that they—and their vividly drawn characters—tend to stay with you for years to come (we’re looking at you, Tin Man). Still Life, the British author’s fourth novel, is no different. Told in brisk, script-like prose, it opens in Tuscany during the Second World War, as British soldier Ulysses “Temps” Temper meets Evelyn Skinner, a magnetic art historian in her sixties. Still Life traces an invisible thread that runs between them, as they return to London post-war and then, later, to Florence. Italy is almost a character in itself in this gorgeous novel: its streets, sound, food and wine are utterly vivid. Then there are Still Life’s actual characters: quirky, flawed, brilliant people who will endlessly charm you, from Temps and Evelyn to “kid” Alys and Claude, the home truth-speaking pet parrot. Still Life is about love, the power of art, how fleeting encounters can shape our entire lives and, most of all, the family we build around us. Escapist, evocative and profoundly moving, it is a real treat.
Winman's lush fourth novel (after Tin Man) begins with a chance meeting in Tuscany in 1944 between a British art historian and an army private. Evelyn Skinner, 64, befriends 24-year-old Ulysses Temper while holed up in a wine cellar as bombs fall. Their paths soon diverge, but Evelyn's suggestion that Ulysses revisit Florence on his own makes a lasting impact. In 1946 London, where Ulysses is now a civilian in a fractured relationship with Peg the hometown girl he married before the war the reader meets Alys, the daughter Peg had with an American soldier she met during her husband's absence, and the endearing London pub friends who become Ulysses's family, some of whom eventually join him in Italy in the early 1950s. After the war, Evelyn shuttles between Kent and Bloomsbury, teaching art history and spending time with devoted female lovers. Ulysses and Evelyn finally reconnect in Florence 22 years after their first meeting. Winman covers much ground, including the devastating 1966 flood of the Arno, a cameo appearance by E.M. Forster, and many rich sections about art, relationships and the transcendent beauty of Tuscany, and while it occasionally feels like two novels stitched into one, for the most part it hangs together. Readers will enjoy this paean to the power of love and art.
This is quite a beautiful story.
Spanning over decades, many lives interwoven with the ripples of WW2 still being felt into the 1970’s, in London, and especially in Florence.
I really enjoyed this book, the storytelling is captivating, the writing style engaging.
The world would be a better place if we all had a Ulysses in our life’s.
Rich, moving, sad at times but so very hopeful.
Absolutely beautiful story. Utterly captivating!