The Age of Light is Whitney Scharer’s first book. Although I usually hesitate to read the first books of authors, I decided to throw my prejudices aside and read it when I saw that it is about Lee Miller and Man Ray. I knew more or less about these two, and it was very appealing to read a novel about their relationship. However, after some progress in The Age of Light, I realized that I was reading a not-so-well-written romance instead of historical fiction.
The Age of Light’s narrator is Lee Miller. At least because it was written from this angle, I decided to finish the book, or I would have left it unfinished before I had read a hundred pages. Although I have read with great pleasure every book that takes place in Paris and about the artists, I read The Age of Light with some difficulty. In the end, although I learned a few things about Lee Miller and Man Ray, I realized that I could read them in any article.
Regardless, I think The Age of Light can be enjoyed by readers fond of photography, especially Man Ray and Lee Miller. It is possible to see what happened during the time they worked together, what Man Ray did, and its effect on Miller. Although I was very bored because the author described these with too much detail and a soggy romance, romance-loving readers might like it.
The Age of Light is not a novel I would easily recommend to anyone. Neither the beautiful city of Paris nor Lee Miller and Man Ray could help me to tolerate this book in the least. When I finished it, I couldn’t help thinking that Miller and Ray were more or less terrible people. I was even convinced that everyone living in Paris at that time was a little crazy and pretty bad people. Unfortunately, that was the only effect the book had on me. But neither Lee Miller nor even Man Ray deserved it. Especially Lee Miller should have been in much better novels. In my opinion, The Age of Light is a complete failure in this respect.
The Age of Light
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 Light tells 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.
The Age of Light: 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.
Whitney holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her short fiction, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The Telegraph, The Tatler, and Bellevue Literary Review.
Her first novel, The Age of Light, based on the life of pioneering photographer Lee Miller, was published by Little, Brown (US) and Picador (UK) in February, 2019, and was a Boston Globe and IndieNext bestseller and named one of the best books of 2019 by Parade, Glamour Magazine, Real Simple, Refinery 29, Booklist and Yahoo. Internationally, The Age of Light won Le prix Rive Gauche à Paris, was a coups de couer selection from the American Library in Paris, and has been published in over a dozen other countries.
Whitney is the recipient of a 2020 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Fellowship in Fiction, and has been awarded residencies at the Virginia Center for the Arts and Ragdale. She teaches fiction in the Boston area and is a co-founder of the Arlington Author Salon, a quarterly reading series. She lives with her husband and daughter in Arlington, MA, where she is at work on her second novel.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: