We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up sign up here >>


Tracey Ashton

I loved this book! Still Life is a beautiful story about friendship and love. Starting in war-torn Italy in 1944, it tells the tale of Ulysses Temper and Evelyn Skinner, two people from different backgrounds and with over 40 years difference in their ages and how they meet but never forget each other. The book continues through the ages telling each of their stories up until 1979. The characterisation is so strong the reader feels that they know them personally. Are they destined to meet again? So many near misses keep you guessing. The book is largely set in Florence and the vivid descriptions of the food, art and buildings is so sharp that it made me want to hop on a plane to experience it for myself. This is the book I will be gifting to friends for years to come.

Colin Fossey

It is very rare that I finish reading a book feeling like I’ve met and known all the main characters in the book, and better still, want to meet the author to say what an interesting person she appears to be, but that’s how I felt at the end of this book. It helps that it mostly takes place during my own life-time and I can relate to the people and the events, but the book drew me in and made the whole reading a very pleasurable experience. Okay, I have some interest in art, and okay I like Italy and Italian history, and have visited Tuscany, but it was a rich and enjoyable experience. The story is beautifully told and the author has obviously done and loved doing the research necessary, and surely must inspire the reader to book a trip to Florence ASAP. I’m now off to buy the back catalogue. Thanks for the experience.

Kathryn Solly

This is a fascinating read across time in post-war Italy. Its characters are rich and varied in their descriptions and they come alive throughout the book via a series of individual stories. The relationships are sensitively interconnected and also relate to so much of Italian culture and life, from food to art. The descriptions of life are not stifled but clear and evocative as a record of social history. The story provides a real foundation of humanity and how folk care throughout their lives for one another by focusing on love and grief. Whilst deeply moving it also provides rich humour and explanations as to why things happen in human relationships. The role of the parrot Claude as a participant in the dramas is also a really beautiful thread. Like Eros, he often brings characters together and carries messages which bind them forever. A sort of modern Shakespeare.

Nigel Meredith

This book is a celebration of life following the Second World War. The in-depth approach to the characters is fascinating to the point that when events occur you know that the reactions are true to the people involved, from Ulysses to Evelyn Skinner. The close community of the pub in London and the smell of the food in Michele’s cafe can be sensed by the words. There are smiles and tears as you read the book which come thick and fast but out of context with the book. I have been to Florence twice and want to go back in the future and find some of the haunts mentioned in the book.

Jane Chesterfield

It’s been nearly forty years since I visited Florence, but this book has stirred up the desire to return to the Uffizi and the Duomo once more. It’s a marvellous, mischievous, magical romp through the twentieth century with a huge cast of larger-than-life but thoroughly believable characters. How could anyone conjure up Cressy, for instance, a walking encyclopaedia with a money-making lucky streak, an empathy with trees and a Shakespeare-quoting parrot as a companion? And yet he captures the reader’s imagination immediately. At the heart of the narrative is Evelyn, whose story launches the book, coming full circle very satisfyingly at the end. The author’s humorous, sometimes mocking voice is present throughout, manipulating the characters as if they were in a play. Every so often, she puts them into ‘still lives’ with the instructions ‘pause’ or ‘click’ to show that she’s directing the action. Winman explores the dual meaning of the title Still Life thoughtfully, considering the impact of art on the everyday lives of her characters in their struggles for survival. Like many good books, it points you to what to read next, and I shall most definitely be revisiting E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View very soon.

Virginia Berry

What a super book to read - a real page turner - one of those books you don't want to put down. This was very easy to read as the different years were divided into different chapters. A history in itself, taking events how they happened such as the presidential assassination and the landing on the moon. The flood in Florence was very realistically written about, I could imagine the 20 feet of mud! All the characters were easy to relate to with their different stories and personalities. I think a re-visit to Florence is now on my list. I could definitely recommend this as a good summer read.

Roy Haley

Still Life is a fascinating tale starting at a period of time prior to the end of World War 2 with a relationship between Ulysses Temper and Evelyn Skinner that develops into a fascinating tale starting in Italy then progressing with Ulysses back to London through to 1979. An interesting tale and a challenging concept with the different relationships but not an easy read.

Gill Wiley

I was excited to receive this book from the Viking Book Club, but my excitement soon turned to disappointment. I did not like the style of writing and the fact there were no quotation marks was very irritating. Nor did I warm to the characters. However, I looked at other reviews of the book and found plenty of people who loved it. I suspect it is a ‘marmite’ book – you will either love it or hate it.

Deirdre McClure

The book itself is well-written with vivid descriptions of both places and characters and lots of interesting information about art and Italian cooking. (presumably all this information is authentic.) The reader is able to get to know the various individuals, most of whom are very likeable and full of character. It was not clear to me how they had first met in London, but it was heart-warming to see how they stuck by each other through thick and thin, despite possible pitfalls from time to time. In particular I liked Ulysses, Cress and the Parrot Claude. I shed a few tears when Cressy died! The descriptions of Florence and of life in the Square below the apartment are so vivid that you can really see it all and the story itself is very touching. Ulysses's reward of a life in Italy for a good deed done in the past, the company of his friends there and the making of new friends are all inspiring. In my opinion what lets this book down is the obsession with sex in all shapes and sizes, and quite explicit. Do readers like this sort of minute detail? It may be fashionable, but it is in bad taste.

Richard Guy

Still Life is a very uplifting and joyful novel, full of larger than life, enchanting and eccentric characters and a powerful testament to the strength of long-term friendship and the rediscovery of old friends and the introduction of new ones. Starting in the war in Florence it proceeds to post war East London and back to Florence and Tuscany over the decades and the characters interact, love and come back again into each other’s lives forging such a tremendous bond of friendship over a love of Art, Literature, wine and Italian food. that you do not want the book to come to an end. Every character has their own eccentricities and flaws and Tuscany becomes a place where these sorrows and damage can be cured and above this hovers the most eccentric voice of reason, the parrot, Claude. All-in-all a wonderful book.