Black & White
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Black & White

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  856 ratings  ·  160 reviews
Clara Brodeur has spent her entire adult life pulling herself away from her famous mother, the renowned and controversial photographer Ruth Dunne, whose towering reputation rests on the unsettling nude portraits she took of her young daughter.

At age eighteen, sick of her notoriety as “the girl in the pictures,” Clara fled New York City, settling and making her own family...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Knopf (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,409)
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Alison
This reminded me of a Jodi Picoult novel--a little more subtle, thank goodness, but still an Issue-Driven novel. The main character, Clara, has a problem from her past: in this case, her mother became a famous photographer based on nude photos of the daughter that could be construed as abuse rather than art. Mother and daughter are estranged, then when the mother is terminally ill, Clara visits her. It's not really enough for a whole novel; it would have been a good long story, but there's not e...more
Amy Obenhaus
Depictions of child nudity or children with nude adults appear in works of art in various cultures and historical periods. These attitudes have changed over time and have become increasingly frowned upon particularly in recent years, and especially in the case of photography. In recent years there have been a few incidents in which snapshots taken by parents of their infant or toddler children bathing or otherwise naked were challenged as child pornography. In May 2008, police in Sydney, Austral...more
M
I'm so mad at this book. Shapiro spins a fantastic premise - a woman who grew up having her mother obsessively take borderline porno pictures of her as a child to satisfy her artistic cravings as well as the fame this found her, and how this ruined their relationship - and then fails miserably at the execution.
The idea of a mother putting her art first as well as the question of exploitation is interesting, along with the question of privacy - who has the rights to these pictures, really? But al...more
Sarah
Dani Shapiro is one of my new favorite authors of all-time! Her writing is intimate and candid, though dark and real. Sadly, Black and White is her latest novel and already going on four years old! However, Shapiro has recently released a memoir called Devotion.

Black and White is about Clara, a woman intent on protecting her young daughter Sam from learning the truth about her grandmother Ruth, a famous artist who used Clara by exploiting her naked body as art in the form of photography. When Ru...more
Lauren
When I first heard about this book, all I could think was, "Uh, Sally Mann?" It seemed ridiculous. But I still wanted to read it.

And it was the equivalent of staying in bed and watching a bad part-Lifetime original movie, part bad indie film. I mean, the bitchy, size two, angry sister and the sister who was the subject of so many provocative photos, taken by her mother. Her mother who is now dying of cancer. Don't they all?

Ruth Dunne. And no one in the book thought to connect her to Joan Didion...more
Frieda Vizel
The short of it: this book had the feel of a date night movie. Predictable and with a feel good story arc and lots of fancy props. The verdict; I expect more from a book than I do from a date night movie.

What was wrong with this book was that... there wasn't anything wrong with this book. The book just wasn't... much of anything. It lacked the humor and complexity to engage, the originality and creativity to surprise. It was good in every way an average person looks good: you're not drawn in and...more
Ellenjsmellen
My mom suggested this one. It's about Clara, 32 year old woman who left home at 18 and never returned. Her mother who is a famous photographer is gravely ill with lung cancer and Clara returns home. I would've given this 5 stars, but there was something about the way that the story was revealed that kind of made it a little slower paced. The dialog had a lot of unfinished sentences because of the fragile topic and I just didn't like that. Kind of took to long to pry the story out.
Constance
I found this book in a used book store. The Winter Park Used book store to be exact. First of all I would like to say that this book store is amazing. I got this book for a dollar and It was easily a fourteen dollar book. I loved this book. It had a a very "jodi Picoult" feel to it.

The story starts with Clara a women who has established herself within the routine of a normal life. She has a loving husband, and a beautiful nine year old daughter. She resides in a sleepy town, safe away from civi...more
Shonna Froebel
Clara hasn't seen her mother in fourteen years when she left home at eighteen. Her mother Ruth is a famous photographer, most famous for a series she did of Clara. The series covered Clara from the age of 3 to 14, all of them naked. Clara has stayed in touch with her older sister Robin, who lives in New York City with her husband and three children and who has become a lawyer like their father. When Robin calls Clara to tell her Ruth is ill and Robin can't cope, Clara goes to New York and visits...more
Caroline Bock
Jun 19, 2013 Caroline Bock rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers with difficult artistic moms
Recommended to Caroline by: Book club read
I read Dani Shapiro's Black & White with my book club. This is a good book club read. Clara, a thirty-something mom, returns to her childhood home, an upper West Side apartment, and confronts her mother, a famous photographer, and her past -- as her mother lays dying. Okay, great set up with lots of juicy book club plot points to discuss.

But the ending a little too neat and tidy for me, and one other thing, minor but you know when something just bugs you. I didn't like the title of this boo...more
David
Emotions Run High in this Family Drama

I thought the book "Black & White" was a very excellent book. The characters were well developed and Shapiro's descriptions of the various scenes, especially the photo shoots, were exceptional. I could easily imagine the characters and the scenes in my mind. There are many reviews on this book so I won't clutter up the page with more detail except to reveal that the story focuses on the relationship between the mother, Ruth Dunne, a noted photographer a...more
Ptreick
This book was 3.5 stars for me.

I found the entire idea of the book (of a mother who takes provocative photos of her daughter/muse) to be intriguing and disturbing, but some of the things I wanted from this book as the story unfolded never came to fruition.

The story's of Clara's past - the memories of particular photographs/photo shoots with her mother - were compelling and vivid, and each time the story returned to the past I was, once again, hooked. But those moments came after long scenes in t...more
Michele
Emotional and Riveting

Black and White is the first of Dani Shapiro's novels I've read, and I found it riveting. The excellent writing is very descriptive, which allowed my mind to be fully transported to the two main settings, an L.L. Bean version of a Maine island in winter and the black-clad gallery world of Manhattan. The rich texture of Shapiro's writing shines through with minute detail. She creates nearly every scene with a 360-degree view. This quality added to my ability to imagine the e...more
Amy
This is a book that I had to read for an upcoming book discussion. What I love about my discussion group is that it "forces" me to read books that I wouldn't normally pick-up and I would not have touched this with a 10-foot pole!

Having said this, I'm glad that I read it. It takes me out of my comfort zone and if nothing else, it is a very discussable book.

It all begins when Clara receives a phone call in the middle of the night. Her mother is sick & dying and Clara's sister, Robin, is callin...more
Mary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy
This is a powerful and engaging book exploring the most powerful relationship of all--that between a mother and child--to be more specific--the relationship between a mother and a daughter. In this book, the daughter is the unwilling muse and model for her mother's photography. When her mother achieves great success, both are locked in a battle for control while the father and older sister look on. It was fascinating to "watch" the family and their interaction. I wondered throughout the book why...more
Janet Lynch
The book started off slowly but picked up in the middle. By the end it was hard to put down. An interesting story about Clara who has estranged herself from her famous photographer mother Ruth. Ruth gained her fame through a series of photographs of Clara, taken between the ages of three and fourteen. All of the pictures were nude photographs. Artistic or pornography? Now Ruth is dying and Clara returns home.
Dawn Michelle
Jun 22, 2010 Dawn Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dawn Michelle by: A lovely old lady in Indigo




Read~June 21,2010
4 Stars

This was an interesting book. I really enjoyed reading this, even as my emotions were on a churning roller-coaster ride.

The main question here is...what constitutes "Art" and what constitutes child abuse?

Clara has been away from NYC, her mother and all the life she has known (but not the memories and the pain the continually cause) for over 15 years when she gets a desperate call from her sister begging her for her help with their mother who is dying.
And so begins a j...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Dani Shapiro "has developed a specialty in writing about difficult mother-daughter bonds" (San Francisco Chronicle). Yet while critics agreed that the relationship between Clara and her mother Ruth (who is loosely based on the photographer Sally Mann) presents a rich opportunity, they disagreed over Shapiro's execution. Those praising the novel found the characters well drawn, but others thought the novel uneven, with a compelling storyline weighed down by the predictability of Clara's emotional

...more
Heather
An intriguing story about a girl who becomes the primary subject of her nother's controversial and best-selling photography in NYC in the 70's and 80's. The book alternates between the modern day story of Clara as an adult with a daughter of her own, (goiing back to NY when her mother is dying of cancer); and the little girl who hated being her mother's model. The author does a great job portraying the dynamic between Clara and her sister, Robin, who is now a successful lawyer in NY and resented...more
Wendy Golding
In this day and age when children are taking naked pictures of themselves and texting them to boyfriends and then the boyfriends are selling them to others, this book was quite an interesting read. Is it art or is it child porn when mom takes naked photos of her 3 year old and becomes famous?

This was very well written and thought provoking.
Davisburns
A great read and worth another listen!!

Clara Brodeur has spent her entire adult life pulling herself away from her famous mother, the renowned and controversial photographer Ruth Dunne, whose towering reputation rests on the unsettling nude portraits she took of her young daughter.

At age eighteen, sick of her notoriety as “the girl in the pictures,” Clara fled New York City, settling and making her own family in small-town Maine. But years later, when Ruth reaches out from her deathbed, Clara s...more
Beth
I read this because I enjoyed Dani Shapiro's memoir, Devotion. Black & White is an interesting novel, the premise being that the mother, Ruth, takes nude photos of her daughter, Clare when she is three years old, she becomes very famous and wealthy for doing so and she continues to use Clare as a subject until she is 14 years old. Clare, of course has issues with this.
The story begins when Clare learns of her mother's terminal illness after years of estrangement and is called "home" by her...more
Cindy
I was so excited when I realized Dani Shapiro had written another book. I read "Slow Motion" and "Family Matters" and thought they were both excellent. One book is non-fiction, the other fiction. However, I was a bit disappointed with Black & White. I think the characters were under developed. The story fell flat and I kept anticipating an interaction between mother and daughter, between father and daughter, between sister and sister that was of some significance and it never happened. It wa...more
Sylvia Berg
A random book I picked up at a 50 cent cart at the library book store. Once I opened it, I couldn't put it down. Excellent novel, strong female characters. Great narrative.
Sherry Edwards
Great storyline. This is the story of a daughter who has spent her adult life running away from her famous mother. She is called home when her mother is dying. The healing begins slowly.
AmblingBooks
This spellbinding novel about art, fame, ambition, and family explores a provocative question: Is it possible for a mother to be true to herself and true to her children at the same time? This brilliant examination of motherhood--a novel that pits artistic inspiration against maternal obligation and asks whether the two can ever be fully reconciled--explores the limits and duties of family loyalties, and even of love. Gripping, haunting, and psychologically complex.

Listen to Black and White on y...more
Allison
not so great -- except the main storyline: Clara's mom is a photographer who becomes world famous after taking semi-nude photographs of Clara as she grew up -- photos that Clara was coerced into, that many believe are child porn and cause Clara to run away as a teenager to build a separate life. Clara's mom is dying and she has to make choices about what to tell her new family and how to deal with her mother. the writing is sub-par and I seem to be unable to give up on Shapiro because of the lov...more
Meghan
This book was all right. It did lack some sense of development and background. The book is only 255 pages and would have benefited from an additional fifty pages. Black + White leaves you wanting to know more, but not in a good way.

It is a quick read and worth the couple hours it took me to get through it.

Shapiro's novel is perfectly enjoyable to read but hardly memorable. It's attempt at being provactive isn't strong enough to hold up through the novel. Perhaps the author cared too much about...more
Carol
Much easier than Family History. Shapiro could have spent more time on the development of Clara's character towards the end when all the change comes about. I liked it, though. It was a quick read.
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Dani Shapiro is the author of five novels and the best-selling memoir Slow Motion. She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker and Elle.

She lives with her husband and young son in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
More about Dani Shapiro...
Family History Devotion: A Memoir Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life Slow Motion Picturing the Wreck

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