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The Age of Light

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  3,667 ratings  ·  469 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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Diane Absolutely. Too much over and over........though it usually doesn't bother me if it works for the plot, it seemed to become the plot. Gave up the…moreAbsolutely. Too much over and over........though it usually doesn't bother me if it works for the plot, it seemed to become the plot. Gave up the book.(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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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,667 ratings  ·  469 reviews

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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.
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
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
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.
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
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book so far this year. Absolutely brilliant!
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved every line of it...
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 tha
Rachael Burrows
Great and informative read!
(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
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,
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
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
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
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Age of Light is one of those books that says with you long after you've finished it. The story follows beautiful model Lee Miller as she moves from NYC to Paris and reinvents herself as a photographer. She meets Man Ray, already a successful artist and photographer, and they embark on the kind of love affair that defines one's life. Lee is Man Ray's lover, partner, protege and overall muse and their relationship plays out on the pages , drawing the reader in. I had no idea I was reading abou ...more

Visit the locations in the novel

I have to admit that before reading this novel I had never heard of Lee Miller and had only heard of Man Ray in passing. Well this was an eye opener! If you’re an art fan, you’re going to be able to indulge in this pretty early on, but although it took me a little longer, it didn’t read like a debut!

The nuances, shades of light and dark of the Paris art world are captured like literary photographs on every page. The story of how two such iconic figures of the art
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
Vivian Payton
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this beautifully written debut novel by Whitney Sharer, THE AGE OF LIGHT transports readers to Paris in the 1930’s and Europe during World War II when Man Ray and Lee Miller meet. Lee is a successful model whose father used to photograph her when she was young and taught her some basics of the trade. At the age of 22, she meets Man Ray, a successful and renowned artist and photographer, who she begins to work for him as his assistant. As they collaborate together, they discover new techniques ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Age of Light is writer Whitney Scharer's historical fiction debut, and it's rather a mixed bag in terms of enjoyment. It tells the deeply emotive story of model, photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller who moves to Paris and becomes the muse and lover of surrealist Man Ray. It captures perfectly the time period and Paris at the height of artistic creativity and freedom; it's rich in detail, and you feel very much a part of the story rather than looking in from the periphery. This is a ...more
Katherine Riley
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Age of Light is like a book of life condensed to its essentials. Meticulously researched, there is little it does not contain. Now that it’s over, I find myself still thinking about Lee a lot, not just the woman or the artist but both, in the larger context of womanhood and artistry and love. When it began, I was aware of the praise it has garnered as a fantastic Parisian love story, and so was frankly shocked to meet a woman who perceives herself as old and fat and ugly, who can’t make art ...more
Books on Stereo
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Age of Light is a complex love story between a muse and an artist that is incredibly addictive but ultimately leaves the narrative on an anticlimactic note.
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Whitney Scharer's debut novel, THE AGE OF LIGHT, is forthcoming from Little, Brown (US) and Picador (UK) in February 2019, and in over a dozen other countries. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from the University of Washington. She lives outside Boston with her husband and daughter.
“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?”
“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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