Description: Frederica Potter, 'doomed to be intelligent', plunges into Cambridge University life greedy for knowledge, sex and love. In Yorkshire her sister Stephanie has abandoned academe for the cosy frustration of the family. Alexander Wedderburn, now in London, struggles to make a play about Van Gogh, whose art and tragic life give the novel its central leitmotiv.
In this sequel to her much praised The Virgin in the Garden, and the second in a magnific ...more
Be warned: there's more of the authorial voice in this part, which may seem a little intrusive; there are the little lectures on plant life (Marius' new hobby), which may seem redundant, but are beautiful, too:
[The] English elm propagates itself underground, and was probably imported by Sto...more
I got this book out of the library. A few days later, I quit the book club. A few weeks later, the book club disbanded.
9/30: The parents are upset when Frederica prepares to leave home and Marcus goes to live with his sister.
10/30: Frederica leaves for the south of France, while Stephanie and Daniel are celebrating.
11/30: Marcus visits his new nephew, Frederica assesses Cambridge men and 'lively' new vicar, Gideon arrives.
12/30: Stephanie escapes from her nagging mother-in-law and leaves Marcus to care for her baby.
13/30: Frederica discovers Raphael, Stephanie's baby, is on its way, but ...more
All Byatt's work is complex and intense, but no less enjoyable for the e ...more
Frederica pursues academics, amongst other things, at Cambridge. She wants to work with those men of great minds and be looked upon as a great mind along with them but finds that as a woman she is still limited. Stephanie is wholly occupied with being a mother and helping D ...more
I was hoping that if I read this book soon after "The Virgin in the Garden" it would go better. But it didn't. While I felt slightly more invested in the characters, there was nothing that made me need to turn the page. I don't really like Frederica. She's just... I don't know what it is, but I can't bring myself to like her.
And this needs to be said. I hate it i ...more
Stephanie a ...more
The first chapter goes to Stephanie in 1953, and her husband Daniel, and her brother Marcus Potter, which informs us that Stephanie is somehow relate ...more
It read as if the author wanted to show off her Cambridge education with various references to authors and artists such as D H Lawrence and Vincent Van Gogh on whose life she concentrates a fair bit, even making him the subject of a play that one of the characters in the book is writing. The main theme of the novel seems to be the contrasting lives of two sisters, Stephanie who has deserted academia in favour of domesticity an ...more
The narration is as pretentious as ever. Before it was easier to ignore or completely disregard references, if your like me, and have never read Proust or Woodsworth. But part of the essence of the series it seems is the characters drive to continue to grow intellectually. It gets old quick as they go on page after ...more
The disadvantage to coming to this series having started with the third book is that when you get near the end of the second book you are waiting for an event that heavily influences what happens in the book you started on. Then you become overly attached to particular settings and situations...
The authorial voice is very strong here; there are numerous expositional interruptions. Not the sort we get in the other books, where you get glimpses of a character's future, but full-blown digressions f...more
The plot itself is not very cohesive. At least, one cannot make a coherent summary of it unless one reads it through, after The Virgin in the Garden. She said: "This is a boo ...more
I was available on book sites, but the price was forbidding. I managed to get Babel Tower in the 2nd Hand market. As we know, books there are found by serendipity, not design.
Still Life is about Francesca's time in Cambridge. It was during the mid fifties. The time was exciting for an intelligent woman with a mind of her o ...more
My chief regret is that Marcus didn't have more cause to interact with the babies. He LIKED the thought that h ...more
Other books in the series
she couldn't decide what to do with herself until that problem was solved, partly because everyone else was looking for a husband.”