Still Life Paperback – Jun 24 1995
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From Library Journal
Still Life is the second volume of a te tralogy. The three Potter children, Stephanie, Frederika and Marcus, in troduced in The Virgin in the Garden ( LJ 2/15/79), continue in conflict with their Yorkshire roots. To them, and to the author, intellectual passions are as all-encompassing as emotional ties, and always at war with them. Frederika, whose novel this really is, escapes to Cambridge and the life of the mind, al beit not without constant struggle. Mar cus, after a long breakdown, manages to stay and function in Yorkshire. Stephanie, having opted for small-town family life, loses her fight to retain an independent intellectual existence and is horribly vanquished by the material world in the book's one tragic moment. This is an opaque, challenging, and re warding novel . While its intellectual preoccupations and allusions will not be readily accessible to a broad reading public, it belongs in major fiction col lections. Diana Vincent-Davis, New York Univ. Sch . of Law Lib.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A major novel…a marvellous and most unusual work.” -- Iris Murdoch
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Top Customer Reviews
I should also, probably more helpfully, say that this is a grand story of an English family in the 1950s--ultimately quite sad, but very insightful and socially and personally conscious. You really love the characters in all their complexity by the end of this. One of the other reviewers commented on a section that dealt with pregnancy and birth in the national health system of England--ironically an experience my mother describes in very similar detail from her pregnancy with me. I also found that section deeply moving.
This is a sequal to The Virgin in the Garden, which is ambitious and harder to read. The characters here have grown and are much more sympathetic and human. You care very deeply for them.
Still Life reads differently from The Virgin in the Garden, the author less obssessed with moment-to-moment reporting through painstakingly-gathered details. It is more sprawling, emphasizing characters' growth over a wider span of time (relatively speaking). What hasn't changed is Byatt's love for and mastery of language, and concern for the life of the mind. The novel contains many passages where Byatt boldly, and almost intrusively, airs her provocative views on everything from writing, visual perception, love, to politics (i.e. delivered in the authorial first person instead of through a character's mouth or mind). But she is also an astute observer of the ordinary, whether depicting childbirth, adultery, or domestic vignettes. There's something for everyone here. The final section is a shocker. I finished the book not quite convinced that a freak accident belongs in a literary novel. All the same, be prepared to read some moving passages on grieving.
Most recent customer reviews
I read Still Life two years ago, I found it in a horrid little used book store on West Main Street, the type that pile books on top of books instead of using walls. Read morePublished on May 3 2001 by Anj V.
Second in A.S. Byatt's ongoing Yorkshire quartet (the first and third novels are "The Virgin in the Garden" and "Babel Tower") I couldn't put Still Life down... Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2000 by peterb