“Two people pulling each other into Salvation is the only theme I find worthwhile.”E.M. Forster, Commonplace Book
Sorry for the delay in posting, this book has taken me nearly a month to read! Part of the reason is that it’s a big book (400+ pages) but another reason is that I’ve had a bit of a reading slump and just had no want to read but I’m back now and ready with another review!
“One of the primary objects of the enlightened traveller in Italy is usually to form some acquaintance with its treasures of art. Even those whose usual avocations are of the most prosaic nature unconsciously become admirers of poetry and art in Italy. The traveller here finds them so interwoven with scenes of everyday life, that he encounters their influence at every step, and involuntarily becomes susceptible to their power.”
Karl Baedeker, ITALY: Handbook for Travellers, 1899.
So Still Life is a book that I have seen all over my twitter feed which lots of people have been raving about so I followed the crowd and decided to have a read and see what all the fuss is about.
“Of what? Who knows? Of love, of war, of the past.”
The year is 1944. Allied troops are advancing. Bombs falling all around. The country? Italy; Tuscany. This is where two strangers meet and together they share an extraordinary evening together.
“Life tests us in many ways.”
Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier. He also has a hobby of globe making. Evelyn Skinner is an art historian. She’s also possibly a spy. She has travelled to Italy to salvage the paintings in the ruins.
“…as unconventional a man as she’d ever meet…she ended up with a husband whose artistic soul she could never own, and neither was she ever the muse. She was trapped by a form of courtly love, church-imposed, whilst her body cried out for wings.”
It’s here in Italy where she relives her memories of having her heart stolen in a Florentine room with a view…by none other than an Italian maid.
These two unlikeliest of people find a likeness in each other and talking to Evelyn about the truth and it changes Ulysses life and of those who love him and hold him dear.
“This was his world now. Somewhere between an atom and a star was this.”
This is a book about enduring friendship, despite years passing between meetings. There’s so many almost meetings throughout the years but they eventually come together.
“Twenty-two years and where do you start?
“Some might say where you left off.”
Whilst most of the book is centred around Ulysses and Evelyn, there are so many other characters and so many other stories that factor and bring the book to life.
This is a beautiful book, spanning many years. Through disasters such as war and floods, through the years of grief, of heartbreak and loss there is still happiness, friendship and love…there’s still Italy. I love that this book tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. It does take a while to get into the book but please stick with it because it does get better and it’s so worth it.
“There are moments in life, so monumental and still, that the memory can never be retrieved without a catch to the throat or an interruption to the beat of the heart. Can never be retrieved without the rumbling disquiet of how close that moment came to not having happened at all.”
You can find this book on Amazon
I’m hoping you guys won’t have to wait quite so long for the next review but thank you for sticking with me, I know it’s not easy at times.
Until next time,