with the peculiar empty feeling that she often had instead of sadness, as though her body knew that it was better to feel nothing at all rather than the something her mother’s playing and her father’s jollity and her fading bank balance evoked.
It turned out that climbing a tree was more difficult than it looked. It was harder than warrior pose in yoga, than teaser in Pilates, than the elliptical or the Reformer. Rebecca thought that if no-one had thought of it yet, soon enough someone in the city would spearhead a craze for tree climbing in Central and Prospect Parks, and it would become the talk of every cocktail party
Yet climb a tree she does, thereby entering into an unlikely friendship with a younger man, the roofer, Jim Bates, whom she first encounters when he deals with a raccoon that has found its way into her roof space.
With its sympathetic portrayal of an older woman, and the merging of sentiment and humour, Still Life with Bread Crumbs put me in the mind of the writings of Anne Tyler. Yet the most striking aspect of the novel for me was the questions it raises about creativity. The title relates to a prize-winning series of photographs of domestic disorder that turned Rebecca into a feminist icon. She’s prided herself on photographing what she finds, never rearranging the objects for a better shot, but when she begins a new project on a series of wooden crosses she stumbles upon in the woods, her lack of curiosity about why they are there threatens her new relationship. The artist’s expropriation of another’s experience or appearance, is something I explored in a flash fiction piece on the Pre-Raphaelite muse.
This is the first of Anna Quindlen’s seven novels for adults I’ve encountered; thanks to Windmill Books for easing my introduction to this fine writer via a review copy.