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The Age of Light: A Novel Hardcover – February 5, 2019
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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"The glittering bohemia of 1930s Paris, the pastoral boredom of mid-'60s Sussex, the hollowed-out carnage of postwar Europe; all come equally alive on the page, as do iconic figures like Ray and Cocteau and Kiki de Montparnasse. But none breathe more vividly than Miller herself: Fiercely independent but racked by self-doubt, desperate for affection and approval even as she chafed at sentiment, she spent decades fighting to find her voice. It was worth the wait."
"An absolutely gorgeous and feminist novel about art, love, and ownership, The Age of Light is truly a work of art in itself, both deeply moving and thrilling. Want to know what it's like to be an artist? Read this astonishing novel and then, like Lee Miller, take time to consider the extraordinary cost she paid to be herself."―Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe
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I've read biography's of Lee Miller and seen scores of Man Ray's photos, many of which sprung into my mind as they were described in the book. I wonder if this familiarity with their work improved, or distracted from my experience in reading this book. The Wall Street Journal review that led me to this book featured the iconic photo of Lee in Hitler's bathtub, a startling visual on many levels. But, is a written description of that work, or Man Ray's experimental work adequate to describe their places in the history of photographic art?
In sum, it probably doesn't matter. This is a story about how each of these fascinating artists felt ABOUT their work, each other and their times along with their mutual misappropriation of their talents. It matters less knowing exactly why they were more than just another studio photographer and fashion model.
This is a fine book....amazing that it is a first novel. Read it. But, if you're not familiar with them, it won't be a spoiler to read the Wikipedia entries of them both before starting The Age of Light.
Top international reviews
Scharer has hit the mark by concentrating on a period either side of 1930 when Miller, post-modelling career and in her early twenties, found herself in bohemian Paris embarking on a passionate relationship with the photographer Man Ray. It was the love affair of her life: it started out as teacher and muse but turned messy as she sought to express her talent through professional partnership but found she had to fight her way out from under.
Interspersed with portrayal of this grand passion, Scharer gives us scenes from other times in Miller’s life that round out her experiences for us, including her celebrated stint as a war correspondent for Vogue, when she was among the first to photograph the survivors of Nazi camps and famously (or infamously) posed in Hitler’s bath on the day he died in the bunker. Not every scene is necessarily ‘as it happened’, for this is not biography but research-based fiction. But Lee Miller is a fascinating subject, far from wholly likeable as inner conflict yanks her chain, and Scharer’s book completely convinces as a character study. It’s also a great read.