"Rapturous and razor sharp all at once, The Age of Light fearlessly unzips anything we might know of Lee Miller as model and muse and recasts her as artist, free thinker and architect of a singular and unapologetic life. This novel sparks on every page." --Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Love and Ruin
A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Light tells the true 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. 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.
Told in alternating timelines of 1930s Paris and the battlefields of WWII, this sensuous, richly researched and imagined debut novel brings to light the life of a fearless, original artist--a woman whose name and art should be known by everyone.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not Worth A Million Dollars
Why this was worth such a large advance payment I will never understand. Loves the concept and topic, but the execution was terrible. Lee Miller deserves better than this “historical” novel which was really a trashy romance novel in disguise. I did usher it in bed while sick because I paid for it, and felt little for the characters in the end. You’d be better off reading a bio instead of this. Disappointing.