#BookReview STILL LIFE by SARAH WINMAN #audiobook


ABOUT THE BOOK


By the bestselling, prize-winning author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a beautiful, big-hearted, richly tapestried story of people brought together by love, war, art, flood… and the ghost of E.M. Forster.

We just need to know what the heart’s capable of, Evelyn.
And do you know what it’s capable of?
I do. Grace and fury.

It’s 1944 and in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening together.

Ulysses Temper is a young British solider and one-time globe-maker, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and relive her memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.

These two unlikely people find kindred spirits in each other and Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.

Moving from the Tuscan Hills, to the smog of the East End and the piazzas of Florence, Still Life is a sweeping, mischievous, richly-peopled novel about beauty, love, family and fate.


PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book – exquisitely read by the author!! A must listen!!

Simply superb!!! The most wonderful story!! This was everything I love in a book! Endearing characters, amazing settings and historical backdrops! All blended to create a world you get sucked in to and you’re bereft when the book finishes! I want to be back in the East End. Back in Tuscany and Florence! And back with the most wonderful creation of characters that enchant you with their lives!

The start of the book is the meeting of a young English soldier in WW2 meeting with an elder art historian, and their connection is instantaneous. What follows is their lives over a number of years and how those war years stay strong in their minds. In both their lives their friends become family, and you are taken along for the ride through their private and professional lives, their loves and losses, their highs and lows…both in England and in Italy. They all endure so much throughout their lives but that sense of community and support never goes away and you really connect with the passion they all show – be it for art, their surroundings, or for one another.

It was all so spellbinding! I laughed ( a lot!), tears were shed and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Still can’t!! Glorious!!


★★★★★

#BlogTour That Summer In Puglia by Valeria Vescina #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fiction. Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts? THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.

“Very beautiful, surprising and evocative.”–Simonetta Agnello Hornby

“This is an enchanting slow burn of a novel; a notable debut. Vescina’s voice is admirably clear, her descriptions lucid, and her characters are human to the core.”–Rachel Seiffert

“THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is rich in insights into human emotions. It’s the tale of the disastrous course even a great love can take if bitterness is allowed to prevail and chances of forgiveness are rejected, but also of the miracles it can work if profoundly experienced and expressed. Valeria Vescina’s style has the fluidity of the great European novelists. Her characterisations are at once vivid and poetic, and the plot ever-surprising. Finally, here is the discovery through literature of Puglia, with its remarkable synthesis of Mediterranean history and cultures–and how appropriate, as this is, deep down, Greek tragedy.”–Edoardo Winspeare

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a totally absorbing debut and loved spending time with the character Tommaso as he recounted the story of his life and loves to a PI who has tracked him down 30 years later. Tommaso has done all he can to distance himself from his past and as he explains the reasons why throughout this intriguing story.

It is a story full of great character studies – we learn of young love, family jealousies and secrets and the way it’s told was also fascinating as it feels like Tommaso is having the conversation with you the reader as he looks back. It isn’t difficult to feel yourself back in Puglia during his youth, growing up idolising his father and the impact that losing him had on him as a young man. And how the death affected his mother who became a different person to him and he always resented the way she treated him from that point. There’s plenty of heartbreak but also determination from Tommaso to move on with his life and explains how he ended up in London and how his life had changed so much.

The bright light in his life was Anna and their story is a beautiful one despite their differences in lifestyles and religion. 

The attention to detail was exquisite and the sights and sounds are brought vividly to life through the pages. It had a lovely gentle feel to it throughout and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.

My thanks to the author, publisher and the team at Bookollective for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for the copy of the book.