As a big fan of stories about the artists and writers in Paris the first part of the 20th century, and a former English major specializing in 20th century American lit, I was a fan of Whitney’ Scharer’s “The Age of Light” as soon as I read the description.
The story is based on Vogue model-turned photographer Lee Miller and her passionate relationship with Man Ray, who becomes both her mentor and lover. I’d never heard of Miller before this book, and was totally engaged by this fictional telling of her time in Paris during the 1930s, where she parties with the local crowd, learns photography and develops interesting new exposure techniques, acts in a Jean Cocteau film, and later serves as a war correspondent who photographs and writes about Europe during WWII.
Told in a flashback, the descriptions are beautiful and the narrative is lively, engaging and sultry all at once. The publisher sums up the character Lee Miller really well: she’s “a brilliant and pioneering artist [who comes] out of the shadows of a man's legacy and into the light.”
It’s also worth noting, that, while it fits into the narrative, there is some reference to child sexual abuse by a family friend/uncle, as well as seemingly inappropriate photography sessions by Miller’s father when she is young.
I’d recommend this book to my own book club, to fans of stories set in the early 20th century, to Francopiles, and to any reader who likes a good woman-coming-into-her-own tale. And if you like Paula McClain’s fiction, chances are you’ll be hooked by Scharer’s tale as well.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.