Tuscany, 1944: As Allied troops advance and bombs fall around deserted villages, a young English soldier, Ulysses Temper, finds himself in the wine cellar of a deserted villa. There, he has a chance encounter with Evelyn Skinner, a middle-aged art historian who has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and recall long-forgotten memories of her own youth. In each other, Ulysses and Evelyn find a kindred spirit amidst the rubble of war-torn Italy, and set off on a course of events that will shape Ulysses's life for the next four decades.
As Ulysses returns home to London, reimmersing himself in his crew at The Stoat and Parot—a motley mix of pub crawlers and eccentrics—he carries his time in Italy with him. And when an unexpected inheritance brings him back to where it all began, Ulysses knows better than to tempt fate, and returns to the Tuscan hills.
With beautiful prose, extraordinary tenderness, and bursts of humor and light, Still Life is a sweeping portrait of unforgettable individuals who come together to make a family, and a deeply drawn celebration of beauty and love in all its forms.
One of The Millions's Most Anticipated Books of 2021
“An epic about a family of friends who make the city of Florence their home in the mid-to-late 20th century…[The] narrative feels almost breathless at times, in part due to the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue, which makes it feel as if the unknown narrator is relating a long story deep into the night....An unexpected treatise on the many forms love and beauty can take, set against the backdrop of Florence.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“STILL LIFE is simultaneously expansive and intimate, a heady brew of disasters, both natural and manmade, of death and life, of the power of great art and, most especially, the resonance of those loves we carry for a lifetime. A truly spectacular achievement. I've never read anything quite like it.” —Karen Joy Fowler
"The sheer joy in [Winman's] storytelling is completely infectious. I've loved spending time with this unforgettable cast of characters in extraordinary times and places." —Graham Norton
“From its opening pages Still Life embodies the full generosity of the human spirit. This vast, ambitious, galloping bear-hug of a book unashamedly celebrates love in all its many forms. Love of art, love of strangers, love of a good glass of Italian wine and a bowl of pasta cooked with enough salt to taste like the sea. Love of stories. Love of love.” –Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Miss Benson’s Beetle
“Still Life is a playful, Maupinesque exploration of the elective family and its possibilities. Four course nourishment for all Winman fans, it harnesses big hearted storytelling to a dizzying historical sweep to celebrate love in all the available colours.” —Patrick Gale, author of Take Nothing With You
“I loved this extraordinary, astonishing and exquisite novel. The story of damaged characters restored and repaired by the truth and beauty of Tuscany, as Florence itself is restored and repaired post-war and post-flood is beautifully told. A joy and a pleasure, my book of the year.” —Liz Nugent, author of Little Cruelties
“This book saved my soul during these very strange times. I loved every word, every sentence, every beat. It’s about love and our defining moments, and it is utterly beautiful. The characters and places now live in my own memory - to be cherished forever.” —Favel Parrett, author of Past the Shallows
“Readers will want to prolong the pleasure of Sarah Winman’s beautiful novel Still Life for as long as possible. It is a book to get lost in, the kind of story that bolsters the heart and soul. I loved it.” –Donal Ryan, author of From a Low and Quiet Sea
“Oh my goodness, I have just finished it! An utterly beautiful story, so generous, rich, deeply moving and filled with hope. Sarah Winman is a genius and one of the greatest storytellers of our time. I remember reading it, When God Was A Rabbit all those years ago and being in complete awe of her, thinking 'I wonder if I could do this too?', so Sarah Winman is why I write!” —Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep