Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Voyage Shop now Shop Now Shop now
Customer Review

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winter's Tale, 10 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Still Life (Paperback)
"Still Life" is shorter than either "The Virgin in the Garden" or "Babel Tower", but feels longer. I don't necessarily intend this as a criticism: this is, however, a darker and more contemplative book than its predecessor.
Byatt's superscription, a passage from Bede, is not only apposite but cuts to the heart of the matter. Imagine, says Bede, that you're dining with friends on a winter's evening (Christmas dinner, maybe?), when a sparrow flies in from the darkness, crosses the room and flies out again into the dark. Such is the life of man.
Where "The Virgin in the Garden" was all overheated summer, there is a wintry chill here: the book opens and closes with preparations for Christmas, but there is little festive cheer. Frederica has now left school and embarked on a colourful undergraduate career at Cambridge. Meanwhile, her sister Stephanie, who is just as bright but lacks Frederica's ferocity, is feeling increasingly trapped by pregnancy and motherhood. There is a new post-feminist edge here: the most memorable passages for me concerned the way Stephanie's horizons, and even her vocabulary, are constricted by her domestic set-up, even with a loving husband and family support. Motherhood is always about loss as well as gain.
The third strand running through the book is the life of Vincent Van Gogh, about whom Frederica's nearly-lover Alexander Wedderburn is writing a play. Van Gogh has become such a cultural icon that this could easily have become a bit maudlin (Dame Antonia leads us in a rousing chorus of "Starry Starry Night"?), but in fact the Van Gogh elements are handled with subtlety and allow Byatt to explore her fascination with visionary experiences and different ways of "seeing".
The unifying theme is one of loss: the book closes with a shockingly random death and its aftermath. Certainly darker than the other Frederica novels; but the characters are as vivid as ever, and linger in the reader's mind long after the book is shut.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details