A Still Life
‘A beautiful memoir, A Still Life is joy-lit: vivid, lovestruck, hopeful and wise … I’ve never come across a new writer with more to offer the world’ Melissa Harrison
‘Full of kindness, A Still Life will make you a better person’ Clare Mackintosh
AN EVENING STANDARD BOOK OF 2021
Josie George lives in a tiny terraced house in the urban West Midlands with her son. Since her early childhood, she has lived with the fluctuating and confusing challenge of disabling chronic illness. Her days are watchful and solitary, lived out in the same hundred or so metres around her home.
But Josie’s world is surprising, intricate, dynamic. She has learned what to look for: the complex patterns of ice on a frozen puddle; the routines of her friends at the community centre; the neighbourhood birds in flight; the slow changes in the morning light, in her small garden, in her growing son, in herself.
In January 2018, Josie sets out to tell the story of her still life, over the course of a year. As the seasons shift, and the tides of her body draw in and out, Josie begins to unfurl her history: her childhood bright with promise but shadowed by confinement; her painful adolescence and her hopeful coming of age; the struggle of her marriage, and the triumph of motherhood. And then a most unexpected thing happens in Josie’s quiet present: she falls in love.
A Still Life is a story of illness and pain that rarely sees the light: illness and pain with no end or resolution; illness and pain that we must meet with courage, joy, ingenuity and hope. Against a world which values ‘feel good’ progress and productivity above all else, Josie sets out a quietly radical alternative: to value and treasure life for life itself, with all its defeats and victories, with all its great and small miracles.
‘Josie George is the kind of writer I strive to be … A tough, tender, beautiful book about existing in a body in the world. I loved it’ ELLA RISBRIDGER
‘Could not be more timely … An immensely talented writer’ LINDA GRANT
In all honesty, I've never come across a new writer with more to offer the world -- MELISSA HARRISON A Still Life is that rarest of things: a memoir that reads like a novel. In a world where we are continually made to think bigger is better, Josie reminds us of the joy to be found from a small, quiet life. Full of kindness, A Still Life will make you a better person -- CLARE MACKINTOSH Could not be more timely ... Josie is an immensely talented writer and thinker who sees a world in a grain of sand and we're all made richer for it ... I hope it's a bestseller -- LINDA GRANT Josie George is the kind of writer I strive to be: meticulous and exacting in her documenting of joy and pain, and how those are the same thing. George sees things other people miss, and that's the point: it's about noticing, about seeing, about learning to see. A tough, tender, beautiful book about existing in a body in the world. I loved it -- ELLA RISBRIDGER This memoir feels like the book we all need right now * Good Housekeeping * An exquisitely pitched memoir of disability and living with chronic pain, but also of finding joy and wonder * Bookseller, Editor's Choice *
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