Still Life by Sarah Winman (Review)

Format: Hardback

Source: Library

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Genres: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 1st June 2021

Synopsis/Blurb (Taken from Goodreads):

“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.”

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My Thoughts & Review

I kept seeing this book everywhere and everyone seemed to love it so I jumped onboard the hype train and decided to give it a go. Before I picked this one up I knew I might struggle with it a little as I always do when it comes to reading historical fiction novels but usually by the end of them I enjoy them, but sadly this wasn’t one of those books.

I originally started of reading a physical copy that I had borrowed from the library, but after struggling with the writing style and lack of quotation marks I decided to give the audiobook a try as it was available on Scribd*. I thought the audiobook was narrated well by Sarah Winman herself but I still struggled my way through to the end of the book.

Although I don’t mind character driven books, I do expect them to follow some sort of plot line. Unfortunately for me I felt that the plot in this novel needed more structure especially as the story spans overs several decades.

I also struggled with the constant jumping around between the different characters. For me it made it difficult to engage with them and I couldn’t really relate to any of them and by the end I didn’t really care what happened to them.

Putting the negatives aside there were a few things I liked about this book. The first being the descriptions of the different places. They were the parts that I thought were really well done and the parts I looked forward to reading. I enjoyed reading how the different cities changed over the course of the story. The other thing I really enjoyed was reading about the different historical events that are touched upon through the book. I honestly wish the story concentrated on those a little more.

I really wanted to like this book, but sadly just wasn’t for me. It was just too slow and kind of boring for my liking. Definitely overhyped in my opinion. But don’t just take my word for it, as I am in the minority of group of readers who didn’t love with the minority of readers

My Rating


Have you read this book? What did you think? Leave a comment below and let’s have a chat.

Happy Reading!!!

(* You can try Scribd for 60 days for free by using my link here (or above). In return I’ll get a month free too at no cost to you)

You can also find me on: Twitter || Instagram ||Goodreads

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