I do not want to condemn Anna Quindlen’s Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel because it all works out in the end. An adolescent desire to have all fiction descend into a scenario of gloom, with the accompanying doom, is a trap I try to avoid in life, so why not in the fiction I read and write?
The problem is less with the tying up the loose-end ending, than with some of the predictable turns of the plot. Even in Rebecca Winter’s sorrow and stress, Quindlen never wants to cause her readers too much pain. That said, Winter’s despair during her long period of solitude is disquieting, and something most have experienced.
But overall, Quindlen does not want to tax us too much. In the end, this leaves us with a novel that does not expand our horizons as readers, or stretch the possibilities of the novel.