Book Review, Still Life by Sarah Winman: A novel that spans the decades from Wartime Italy to Post War London and the1966 floods of Florence and a novel without a plot but a set of interconnecting lives.
Evelyn Skinner and Ulysses Temper meet during the war – she in her 60s and he a younger soldier. Reunited later in their love of art in the north Italian city the story of their separate lives are played out with a host of characters.
There’s the pub that Ulysses gravitates to on his return to England – The Stoat – with its ragged VE bunting, its creaky pub sign and and its regulars ‘huddled around the hearth exactly as he’d left them: same faces less teeth.’
The conversations featuring Ulysses and his estranged wife Peg, barman Col and Piano Pete are witty and fast moving if at times hard to follow as Winman chose not use speech marks. call me old fashioned but I like punctuation.
Still Life captures in detail several specific periods of mid 20th century life. Post war London in particular with its smells of coal dust and cough syrup its bomb sites and dimly lit streets.
The characters are drawn in detail through their actions as much as their words in novel I found hard to really get stuck into due to its episodic nature despite its broad canvas.
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