Review: Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

☆☆➹⁀☆ 3 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

She went to Paris to start over, to make art instead of being made into it.

A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Lighttells the story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. 

“I’d rather take a photograph than be one,” she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. But Man Ray turns out to be an egotistical, charismatic force, and as they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee’s life forever.

Lee’s journey takes us from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from discovering radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it’s possible to reconcile romantic desire with artistic ambition-and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.

Told in interweaving timelines, this sensuous, richly detailed novel brings Lee Miller-a brilliant and pioneering artist-out of the shadows of a man’s legacy and into the light.



Guest Reviewer Sara’s Thoughts:

Age of Light Was intriguing as a historical fiction novel depicting the life of Lee Miller. The life of a beautiful model with aspirations of becoming a photographer in her own right in bohemian Paris is plenty for a captivating narrative.  A love story for the ages and the backdrop of war adds passion and depth to the characters.

Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray was definitely the main course and the development of their affair was rich and enviable. Though an interesting life, I found it difficult to be transported to, and remain in, the era. I loved the detailed darkroom scenes that brought me back to a time when surrealism in photography was developing.  

I found the forays into Miller’s war assignments confusing and distracting because of their infrequency, though necessary to explain the prologue.

Overall, a nice love story of an undeniably alluring Lee Miller and enigmatic Man Ray made it a little more provocative history lesson. 

About the Author: She holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from the University of Washington. She lives outside Boston with her husband and daughter.

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