Still Life: a timeless novel celebrating art and life entwined

Book review: Set during a pivotal period in European history, Sarah Winman delivers a micro story on a macro scale

Sarah Winman, author of Still Life

Sarah Winman, author of Still Life

In the small hours of November 5th, 1966, the river Arno burst its banks and flooded Florence. The Renaissance city was devastated by some 600,000 tonnes of mud that remained in its wake. Fifty thousand Florentine families lost their homes. Thousands of masterpieces of art and and rare books were damaged or destroyed as galleries, churches and museums sat submerged in mud that is reported to have reached 6.8m (22ft) in height in some parts of the city.

In the immediate aftermath, hundreds of young people travelled from across the Continent to help with the great clean-up, rescuing priceless paintings from the Uffizi galleries and providing aid to the broken-hearted Florentines. These spontaneous volunteers became known as the angeli del fango – the mud angels. 

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.