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The Age of Light

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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  9,083 ratings  ·  1,104 reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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Susan I agree with Ally. If you're going to understand Lee Miller, and the forces that drove her, that starts with her history as a survivor of sexual assau…moreI agree with Ally. If you're going to understand Lee Miller, and the forces that drove her, that starts with her history as a survivor of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Like many survivors, her subsequent relationships with men were fraught. It's part of her story, and my feeling is that it was included as such. (less)
Julia Sometimes netgalley gives you kindle books that are wonky with formatting. I've contacted them about it, because it's so distracting that I can't read…moreSometimes netgalley gives you kindle books that are wonky with formatting. I've contacted them about it, because it's so distracting that I can't read it. They told me to download it on my computer as a PDF and read from there. What I usually do is just wait for the hard copy to come out and get it from the library.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Tammy
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a romance novel masquerading as historical fiction. Despite my interest in Man Ray and Lee Miller, I truly don’t need to read about their steamy sex. Their sexual proclivities aside, there is a lot about this that simply reads false.
Liz
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

As an amateur photographer and someone who loves photography as art, I was thrilled to get an advance copy of this book about Lee Miller and Man Ray. It took me back to the days when photography was as much about developing a picture as taking it. The book shines when the descriptions turn to the art of photography, especially when Lee is framing a shot or Man is teaching her how to develop for maximum effect or they come up with a new technique. When she is determining how to take a shot, I cou
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Jennifer S. Brown
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel of Lee Miller--a model turned photographer who became the assistant and lover to the more famous artist Man Ray--is lush and engrossing and the details of her life swept me away. There is something almost photographic in the way Scharer captures the story, diving into Miller's life as a war correspondent in the 1940s, delving into Miller's libertine mindset, and allowing us to enter the lives of the artistic scene of Paris in the late 20s and early 30s, each image crystallizing for us ...more
Celeste Ng
In incandescent prose, Whitney Scharer has created an unforgettable heroine discovering her passion, her independence, and her art—and what she must sacrifice to have them. Sweeping from the glamour of 1920s Paris through the battlefields of World War II and into the war’s long shadow, THE AGE OF LIGHT is a startlingly modern love story and a mesmerizing portrait of a woman’s self-transformation from muse into artist.
JanB
DNF @ page 89.

It took me 3 days to get to page 89 and I'm not finding the story compelling enough to want to pick it up, so into the DNF pile it goes.

I did however spend a lot of time online looking up Lee Miller. I enjoyed reading about the real life woman more than I did the fictionalized one.

This was to be a buddy read with Marialyce and Dana, so look for their reviews for alternate opinions. This book was just not for me.
Crystal King
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew very little about Lee Miller before diving into this delightful debut novel (thanks NetGalley and Little, Brown). I was immediately drawn in, not just by the exquisite language and Scharer's gift of storytelling, but also her ability to send you right into the mind of Miller. Scharer squeezes your heart, and inflames your senses with every move that Miller makes. It was only afterward when I wanted to know more about Man Ray and his enchanting lover that I found Scharer took a few liberti ...more
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Age of Light had me at “a love affair between real-life photographers Lee Miller and Man Ray.” But when I learned it's also the story of a woman who moves beyond muse to artist, I all but threw myself at it and yelled, "Take my money!" I'm a sucker for a woman demanding to be heard.

When Lee Miller arrives in 1930s Paris, she's determined to put her successful modeling career behind her and go behind the lens. Soon, she meets Surrealist artist Man Ray and co
...more
Louise Miller
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is truly an extraordinary novel. From the first scene to the last, I fell into my own passionate love affair with this book--I found myself always wanting to be reading it, and pining for it when I had to set it down, thinking about the characters and the lushness of the details as I fell asleep. Scharer has a visual artists eye for detail, an ear for lyrical prose, and a huge empathetic heart. I can't wait to share it with everyone I know.
Christopher Castellani
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such an engrossing and transporting book, one that, as many readers have already noted, makes these glamorous and thrilling characters come vividly alive on every page. Scharer is a natural storyteller who gets you emotionally invested not only in the relationship between Lee Miller and Man Ray, but in the dramas and passions of the demimonde they inhabited, and especially in the psychology of Miller herself. I particularly liked how The Age of Light was told solely from Lee Miller's per ...more
Karen
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book so far this year. Absolutely brilliant!
Ygraine
i come away from the age of light with a bitter, almost metallic feeling coating my throat; it is, i think, a hard book to read at times, and one that is consciously uncomfortable, creating a distance between itself and the reader that it is hard not to imagine as a lens, the glass through which scharer invites us to look and see a place and characters slightly dislocated from reality, upside down in the viewfinder.

it is a fictionalised account of lee miller, her time spent being mentored by, in
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Liz
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am lucky enough to have read a preview copy of "The Age of Light". Whitney is an amazing first-time published author. This book was a delight to read and I could barely put it down. It contains the joie de live of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and the artistic intensity of Frieda Kahlo. Lee Miller is a perfect character and pulls you in to her story. Other books would have portrayed her as the woman behind the man, but this story proves how compelling, smart, creative and so very imperfect Lee ...more
Erin
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review

So having spent time on Google researching about Lee Miller and Man Ray and their outstanding work in surrealist photography and paintings, I was expecting maybe a bit too much from this novel. Alternating between the couple's chaotic relationship in the 1920's to Lee Miller's work during WWII, the best bits of the story are when the focus is on the art productions. With a fair bit of rationalizing, I
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Mary Urban
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An evocative historical fiction that swiftly whisks you away to the beautiful melancholy of the 1930s Paris art world.

A woman's voice and her place in art and relationships are at the center of this novel, a contemporary theme among a historical setting. The Age of Light absolutely drips in style; enjoy rubbing elbows with Picasso, Cocteau, and, of course, the tumultuous and intoxicating Man Ray in secret salons and on dimly lit cafe boats.

Note that Lee Miller is a real historical figure with
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Marialyce
2.5 stars

Sorry to say this book disappointed me greatly. I do think that because some titles are mislabeled as to their topic, that this is often the cause for readers to be unhappy with a book. In this case, the book was said to be historical fiction. My reading of it gave me the distinct impression that it was a romance novel.

While I did enjoy the brief "history" of its main characters, Lee Miller and Man Ray, I did not feel that there was not enough of their accomplishments and too much of th
...more
BrokenTune
Jun 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF @ 114 pages.

I throw in the towel.

We have completely abandoned the historical part and any sort of character development and for the last 30 pages all we learn about is Lee's various desires for Man Ray, or really any man that reminds her of him even just a bit.

These aren't the droits I was looking for.

Lee Miller deserves a better biography, even if it is a fictional one.
Stella
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved every line of it...
Amber
Mar 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
I am finally getting around to writing a review for this one. I believe this is the first 1 star book I have read this year. I don't give 1 star reviews easily. In fact I hate giving a 1 star to a book since I know how hard it is for authors to write a book and put it out there in the world. BUT, here we go...



That GIF literally sums up my reaction after reading this book.

It was not what I was expecting which isn't much when I go into a historical fiction book. When I read historical fiction m
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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I knew nothing about either Lee Miller or Man Ray before I read this book. However, I was absolutely fascinated by this story. Several times during the time I listened to the audio version of the book did I have to take a break to google both Lee Miller Man Ray for their art.

Now, I had an ecopy of this book, but I decided to listen to the audio version during work. However, I couldn't stop listening and start reading when I got home. The narrator, Therese Plummer did such an excellent work t
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Will
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Upon finishing this novel, I really wish that I had read one of the biographies of the fascinating Lee Miller rather than this flawed and salacious fictional account of her relationship with Man Ray.
Rachael Burrows
Great and informative read!
✨Sumi's Books✨
May 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is well written but there really is no plot. It's really just willy-nilly with seemingly no point and I lost interest. The World War II sections were great but unfortunately there's just not enough of them to keep my interest with this one.
Fidan Lurin
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was recently sent an ARC of The Age of Light by the publicists at Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review. This work of historical fiction by Whitney Scharer is expected to be published on February 05, 2019.

The Age of Light is a captivating and exhilarating narrative that keeps readers emotionally invested up to the very last page. Masquerading as historical fiction, the novel recounts the life of Vogue model turned photographer, Lee Miller and her relationship with Man Ray,
...more
Julia
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
The problem I had with this novel is the same one I had with Paula McLain's latest ("Love and Ruin"). The author, in both cases, takes a female artist who by all accounts has lived a full and extremely interesting life, and reduces her to the relationship she had with a more famous male artist. In this case, Whitney Scharer examines Lee Miller, a model-turned-photographer in late 1920 and early 1930s Paris. Lee becomes Man Ray's assistant and they begin a love affair. Almost the entire book is d ...more
Dawnny
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
Lee Miller is a Vogue model turned photographer. She meets and falls in love with the famous Man Ray in 1930' Paris. Haunted by her past Lee is charmed by the remarkable Man Ray. As lee's career starts to rise Man Ray becomes jealous and things take a turn. This is at times very sexually explicit. Very bohemian in nature. I loved it! I was compelled it. The setting being Paris, the whole artsy feel of it. The characters were feelable. Can't say enough how good this is. I just loved it!

I was give
...more
Rebecca
(3.75) This novel about Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray is in the same vein as The Paris Wife, Z, Loving Frank and Frieda: all of these have sought to rescue a historical woman from the shadow of a celebrated, charismatic male and tell her own fascinating life story. Scharer captures the bohemian atmosphere of 1929–30 Paris in elegant but accessible prose. Along with the central pair we meet others from the Dada group plus Jean Cocteau, and get a glimpse of Josephine Baker.

Miller was a ph
...more
Ieva Andriuskeviciene
I expected a lot and got basically nothing. You take most interesting people in art world of that time and do nothing with it. Just such a flat and dull book. It might be ok if you know nothing about real people on which book is based. I believe Lee Miller would be really upset by such a boring portrait of her. Do yourself a favour and watch The lives of Lee Miller documentary.
Very disappointing and know one would ever even read a book if not those famous names author based it on
Theresa Smith
Let’s just cut to the chase: how stunning is this cover?! And for a novel that is largely about photographic art, it’s utterly perfect. As to the novel itself, The Age of Light is biographical historical fiction, a sub-genre I tend to gravitate towards.

For the most part, The Age of Light delivers on what it promises. And it’s stunningly written in places, truly lyrical. Take this passage about Lee’s depression, the picture it paints is so vivid it’s tangible:

‘Lee has never been very good at bein
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Susan
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sensuous writing dripping with period set details from salons to cabarets, seedy lounges and absinthe dens, Whitney Scharer's The Age of Light is the fictionalized account of the love affair between Lee Miller and Man Ray, interlaced with brief chapters from Miller's time as a war photographer. The third person present narration gives each scene immediacy unshackled from traditional historical fiction. Scharer's smooth, unabashed writing style matches perfectly with Miller's story as she goes fr ...more
Karen LeBlanc
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer chronicles in historical fiction the love affair between a former model turned photographer Lee Miller and the famed photographer Man Ray, an influential force in the Dada and Surrealist movements rooted in Paris in the 1930s.

We first meet Lee in 1966 as a puffy middle-aged woman prone to drinking whiskey and dulled by the monotony of her marriage and life on a farm on Sussex England. At midlife, Lee has settled for a meh marriage and an unfulfilling but stead
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Could you please change a few things for this book? 4 236 Aug 01, 2019 06:32PM  
Book of The Month: The Age of Light 4 57 Mar 13, 2019 02:42PM  

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Whitney Scharer's debut 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 ...more

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87 likes · 75 comments
“Lee could assemble an entire history from the photos that would tell any version of the story she wants. But back then, that first summer in Paris, she didn't yet know the power of pictures, how a frame creates reality, how a photograph becomes memory becomes truth. 

Or Lee could tell the real story: the one where she loved a man and he loved her, but in the end they took everything from each other - who can say who was more destroyed?”
3 likes
“In the end, Lee thinks, their personal drama makes their art work, and she can't help thinking of herself with Man, the way she can't separate her feelings for him from the work they do together.” 0 likes
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