Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
Early in her career, photographer Rebecca Winter unexpectedly set the art world on fire with her images known as the “Kitchen Counter” series. Women, young and old, related to the photos’ ability to capture the essence of their everyday lives. The most famous picture “Still Life with Bread Crumbs”—and also author Anna Quindlen’s title for her novel—had thus far funded a comfortable life for Rebecca, her son, and her aging parents.
But as she approaches her sixtieth birthday, the once extravagant royalty checks are drying up and, while speaking requests still trickle in, the associated honorariums are paltry. With a grown son who still needs an occasional cash boost and a mother residing in an expensive long-term care facility, Rebecca decides her apartment on the west side of Manhattan—her one remaining valuable asset—will be the ticket to achieving financial solvency. By subletting the space, the resulting income will just about cover her obligations and pay for her rent on a cozy cabin (or that’s how it’s advertised) in Upstate New York.
Initially the move leaves Rebecca desperately longing for her comfortable urban lifestyle. While the strange noises both inside and out are unnerving, the house also falls far short of its online description. But she gradually meets a core group of local residents (including an attractive outdoorsman and a vagrant but loyal canine) on whom she begins to rely. Most importantly though, Rebecca has begun working on a powerful series of photographs that just might return her to a place of prominence as an artist on the cutting edge.