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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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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

14 people found this helpful

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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.

11 people found this helpful

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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!

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  • TJ
  • 29-07-21

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Joanna Butler
  • 29-12-21

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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  • Susie D
  • 08-05-22

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
  • 17-04-22

Engrossing

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

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  • Michelle Mundell
  • 22-01-22

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.