One of the Best Books of the Year: Parade, Glamour, Real Simple, Refinery29, Yahoo! Lifestyle. "A startlingly modern love story and a mesmerizing portrait of a woman's self-transformation from muse to artist." --Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
"I'd rather take a photograph than be one," Lee Miller 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. 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 of self-discovery takes took her from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from inventing 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 stay true to herself while also fulfilling her artistic ambition--and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We can’t remember the last time we were so seduced by a novel. The Age of Light is based on the life story of Lee Miller, an American fashion model turned photographer turned war correspondent. After moving to Paris in the late 1920s, Miller crossed path with Surrealist artist Man Ray, becoming his creative and romantic partner. That relationship put her in the center of the city’s bohemian circles. Miller’s experiences with hedonistic excess, intense self-discovery, and heartbreak are an intoxicating swirl that will speak to anyone who has ever been seduced by life in the big city. First-time novelist Whitney Scharer is a major talent who captures the familiar agony of a woman hungry for more than society is willing to offer.
Scharer's stellar debut chronicles the tumultuous working and romantic relationships of photographer Man Ray and model-turned-photographer Lee Miller in early 1930s Paris. As as an older woman living on a farm in East Sussex, Lee contemplates an assignment to write about her time with Man. Scharer intersperses her memories of that era with the grim but satisfying later years of being a WWII photographer. The years during and after the fall of Hitler led to her most important work, but also to a drinking problem. These scenes are juxtaposed against her hope-and-love-filled initial years in Paris, where she meets the older Man at a party and later convinces him to take her on as an apprentice. Man nurtures her talent as a photographer but also proves himself possessive and controlling, both as a lover and as a mentor. It becomes clear that he and his circle of famous artists ultimately don't take women's work seriously, prompting Lee to betray him. When Man guts her by submitting her photography under his name for a prize, she exacts revenge via another project he wanted to take from her and brings matters to a head. Scharer's brilliant portrayal of the complicated couple features a page-turning story and thrillingly depicts the artistic process.
A snapshot of Paris in the 30’s
Just loved this book which takes place in Paris - fascinating and sensual and I didn’t want it to end
Didn’t like it - self absorbed and searching for a meaningful message of some kind
Didn’t like it - self absorbed and trying to be relevant
Wonderful and romantic, this book has everything; sex, art, love and food (mostly) set in prewar Paris, beautifully written. A stunning first novel