Photographer Rebecca is forced to switch her beautiful New York apartment for a rambling cottage somewhere in a dense forest near a small town (at a two hour drive of New York though). Lack of money and a dwindling career have made this move necessary. Her photos and merchandise no longer sell that well, while her mother’s home, her father’s apartment and her sons expenses are still to be paid every month. By renting out her apartment she can cover most of her expenses.
Quindlen writes beautifully, it was a pleasure to read her book. It has a major setback however: it is extremely predictable. It took me only a few pages to conclude that at the end Rebecca would be in a relationship with roofer Jim, that her career would get a new boost by living in nature and that in the end she naturally would no longer want to live in New York (haven’t I heard that one before). As a bonus Quindlen also threw in good endings for the nicer minor characters.
Remains the fact that Still Life is written beautifully, that I could almost picture the new series of photographs Rebecca starts to take and that Quindlen is slightly cynical when it comes to the New York scene. I cannot quite grasp however why this novel made it to the Bailey’s Women’s Prize Long List 2014. It does not compare to the majority of its competitors; style and beauty do not make up for the predictable ending.