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Publisher's Summary

The instant Sunday Times best seller

Winner of Dymocks Book of the Year

A Guardian Best Book of 2021

A BBC Between Two Covers Book Club pick

Winner of the InWords Literary Award

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’s chance encounter with Evelyn will transform his life – and all those who love him back home in London – forever.

©2021 Sarah Winman (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"Sheer joy." (Graham Norton, author of Home Stretch)

"A bear-hug of a book." (Rachel Joyce, author of Miss Benson’s Beetle)

"Utterly beautiful...filled with hope." (Joanna Cannon)

What listeners say about Still Life

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Meraviglioso! - simply wonderful!

Italy, art, fabulous well-rounded characters that I will continue to think of fondly. Read this, you will fall in love too. beautiful writing and narration, thank you Sarah.

4 people found this helpful

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Pretentious and plotless

I must be alone in feeling this but this book just went on and on without any clear point of purpose. I think the only character I would have actually liked in real life, Ulysses, was central to everything but never really had anything actually happen in his life. I have lived in Italy and love it but this but this book made it seem like a different country to the one I love. Too many characters and names serving no real purpose. I really disliked this book and couldn't wait for it to hurry up and end.

2 people found this helpful

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vicariously relived Italy

brilliant! beautifully written and narrated.
I was transported back to Italy in the exquisite descriptions of villages, pensions and characters.

2 people found this helpful

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A very enjoyable read and wonderful narrator.

I really enjoyed this story that followed the individual and interconnected lives of 2 English people who meet in the beautiful area of Florence during the turmoil of World War 2. One a soldier and the other a mature expert in art trying to save and salvage the treasures of the area.
By chance their paths cross and offer them each a break from the tension of the war around them. Against this imminent backdrop, as they share their knowledge of art and literacy, respect and regard for human kindness, care and love, they can briefly enjoy the world through a rosier hue. Although brief, this causes a lasting link and they will both strive to meet again.
Over the decades that follows the story focusses on the lives of both as they return to England. The reader is introduced to 2 different groups of people, one in the arts faculties of university and the other in a local pub and community in London. Interesting and endearing characters are introduced and are ultimately linked via the performing arts.
The characters are all endearing and illustrate the value and effect family and community support and loss.
I loved that this book largely focussed on Florence in the beautiful and rich environment of Tuscany. I enjoyed reading about the story set against the devastating flood of the Arno River in 1966 and the loss and saving of homes and the precious art and churches of Florence.
I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Renaissance Art and of course the beautiful city of Florence and stories of people overcoming overcoming the issues that arise from war, loss and resulting love and support.
My enjoyment of this story was also largely an affect of the highly accomplished skills of the narrator. Thank you Audible.

1 person found this helpful

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ive totally lost the plot

i shall try again another time there must be some good reason it's raved upon. it's me i'm sure but i'm 1/3rd of the way through and i have no clue where it's at . too complicated at this time for me .

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Not her best

Struggled to remain attached to the story.
z z z z z z z z

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A sweet, beautiful story

Beautifully written, absolutely squeaking with intelligence. A teensy bit pretentious for my taste but it saunters along nicely.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful

A beautiful reading of an amazing book
I shall remember these characters for a long time especially Ulysses
I fell a little in love with the kind, gentle, wise and loyal Ulysses and shed a few tears as I became engrossed in the lives of those on these pages
Highly recommend!!

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating

A thoroughly enjoyable book . A little slow to get into but addictive and captivating. Great characters and you could almost be in Florence with them . Sarah Winman is a gifted writer and narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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Achingly beautiful

From the first chapter I did not want this book to ever end. It is full of life, yearning, poetry, love, humour and history. I fell into the lives of the characters and walked the streets with them. It leaves you feeling loved and sad too yet so
Whoever fulfilled

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joanna Butler
  • 29-12-2021

The best book ….

I haven’t enjoyed or been so completely immersed in a book for some years. My first introduction to this author. Loves the story. Atmospheric without being obvious; funny and real; honest. The characters were so vivid and alive I feel bereft now it’s finished. I’d love to go to dinner with them all and find out how they are now. Can’t recommend strongly enough

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-08-2022

Pretentious and annoying

I really wish I read more reviews before I bought this book - I had to stop halfway through. There is no real depth to the story or characters - just a bunch of stories cobbled together with words and images that can be understood by the general populace. Not true literature but rather a show off of the author's intellectual knowledge. I found the narration overly melodramatic and annoying. Sad that this book is so popular but I get why - it sounds impressive and might be enjoyed but those who have not yet read any of the truly great books. Don't waste your time.

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  • Anna
  • 06-07-2022

Thoroughly enjoyable with wonderful characterisations

Sarah Winman narrates her delightful Novel so perfectly - developing her characters to a level that one sees it in cinematic glory - can’t wait for the movie - loved it

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-06-2022

Still - life - a kaleidoscope / 3/d entry into the lives of the main Protagonist

A perfect jewel
A slice of lives over decades -with Florence as the heart of the book
The themes of different periods From precious moments in war time, touching on life long relationships .
Community and , family made up of different characters from small town England - each character touching on diversity - and highlights from the decades - the flood in Florence being a great communal binder .
Poignant , historical facts woven into a gripping Story

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  • Susie D
  • 08-05-2022

Heartwarming and inspiring

I adored this book! It’s a beautifully written story about interesting and complex people who share deep, heartwarming relationships. At times I laughed out loud and towards the end I cried real tears. It evoked a range of emotions through a simple story of people who love and support each other through-out the course of their lifetimes. Sarah Winman narrates her own book brilliantly and makes you fall in love with each of her characters one by one. The relationships between an old man and a tree, a grieving soldier and his dead comrade, a group of Eastenders and an Italian village, all come together under the Florentine skyline and an African parrot’s wingspan. It is both magical and relatable and inspired me to book a trip back to Italy.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-04-2022

Engrossing

A beautifully written book with an engrossing story.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Very satisfying and very well narated.

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  • Michelle Mundell
  • 22-01-2022

Beautifully Narrated

Story-telling at its best. I loved it. Some may find it very slow-going, but the narrator really brought the characters to life.

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  • V. O'Regan
  • 04-06-2021

A gentle story of love and Florence

A lovely story about love and the beauty of Florence and its ability to stir the passions. A touch of A Room With A View woven in

15 people found this helpful

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  • Helen SJ
  • 15-06-2021

A Beautifully intoxicating novel.

This is the third time I have read this novel. It is a fabulous book with wonderful characters.
If you love life, art and culture this is the book for you.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Earnest
  • 24-06-2021

Gentle and accomplished memory-telling

Although there may not be the flourishes one might expect from a classic or a great drama, this finely wrought tale envelops the listener into such an engrossing tale. Of course Florence is one of the main characters but all of the people and the parrot will be hard to forget. May I be so bold as to say that this author surpasses the humanity and insight that Forster himself brought to his work. His work is splendid often enough but unlike this novel, too often the people themselves are scarified by his criticism and ‘wit.’ This is a far kinder, well rounded and humane treatment of a troupe of human beings on their way through life. I was very sorry to see them go when the novel finished.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Patsy Barrow
  • 18-06-2021

Enchanting book

I loved the book . Utter joy,.Florence, beauty, wine, love and friendship. All that matters

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Doreen Barnett
  • 17-06-2021

Deliciously evocative

Perfectly imperfect characters that make you laugh and cry. A richly told story that makes me want to immediately fly to Florence and see it again, but through the eyes of these much loved characters. I will miss them!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ellen
  • 15-06-2021

Simply awesome

This is a stunner of a book, Everything about it is beautiful. A cast of very different characters who come together to form a family built on love, respect and trust. Books this special are few and far between, a true masterpiece.

6 people found this helpful

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  • keziah
  • 15-06-2021

Sarah Winnman feeds my soul

A beautifully written story of time and life and love. Rich descriptions of Florence makes you feel like you are there, feeling the warm sun on your skin. Like all her novels the characters become like old friends and you don’t want the story to end because you know you will miss them. I love the way Winnman writes her words make my heart grow a little bigger.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah Singleton
  • 15-06-2021

Delightful

Fascinating story superbly told, unexpected twists and turns hold your attention from beginning to end.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mountain Lewy
  • 28-10-2021

Very disappointing

Having read the glowing reviews of this book I was looking forward to a literary treat. However, despite having persisted, or rather endured, for three hours, I have given up. I am sure that there are those whom this story will enchant, as the reviews suggest, but I found it tedious, aimless, pointless and frankly depressing. The narrators voice was flat and disinterested, as if she found it as lack-lustre as I did, and perhaps, as she wrote it, she knew that she was in for 15 hours of endurance, rather than enjoyment. Please don’t let my review put you off, this could very well be the joy for you that has been described by others, but it was most definitely not for me. Sorry!

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • TJ
  • 29-07-2021

50/50

We move from Eastenders to A Room with a View, carrying a parrot. Ultimately, I don't think it works.

My favourite section was with the young Evelyn. It felt vibrant and more Italian but doesn't save the novel.

Cress stole the show; he was brilliant until he died. And then we forgot about him completely.

Claude, the parrot, was a particular annoyance, fully conversing with humans and seemingly outliving all of humanity. I'd hoped the 1950s would see him swept up in a shiny new industrial vacuum cleaner. Alas, no.

Peg and Ulysses were so dysfunctional that I didn't care about either of them. They competed with Evelyn to be central, but why? What was the point?

There are too many references to swallows and swifts, a not-so-subtle nod to Ann Patchett's Dutch House, which I didn't enjoy either!

However, Sarah Winman does a brilliant job narrating with skilled accents and authenticity. It's just a shame I didn't enjoy the story.

3 people found this helpful

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