The Age of Light: A Novel (Hardcover)


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A young Lee Miller arrives in Paris in 1929. Previously in NYC she was a successful model. Now she would prefer to be the photographer rather than in front of the camera. Paris in the 1930s is a magnet for writers and artists. Lee meets the already successful artist Man Ray and arranges to be his assistant in exchange for him teaching her photography. A passionate love affair develops. Lee’s photographic skills improve to challenge her lover and mentor. Jealousy, male ego, and possessiveness are obstacles to Lee Miller’s artistic development and she must make difficult choices. In clear and compassionate prose Whitney Scharer describes the struggles, insecurities, and contradictions that Lee Miller confronted and her evolution to be a world renowned photographer and wartime journalist.  This is historical fiction at its best.

— From Joan's Picks

February 2019 Indie Next List


“Art lovers will enjoy this sexy, brilliant novel about Man Ray and Lee Miller set in Paris during the Jazz Age. Ray met Miller shortly after she arrived in Paris, young and just learning her craft. He became her mentor and lover, an intense relationship with the older man nurturing the younger woman’s talent. But as Miller grew into her art and the relationship shifted, Ray’s ego needed to be first. By WWII, Miller is at the height of her powers, and she leaves behind the safety of shooting portraits for the battlefields of Europe, documenting the horrors of concentration camps. Following Miller from her youth to old age, Scharer explores the passions and creativity of two larger-than-life characters.”
— Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR

Description


"Sweeping from the glamour of 1930's 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."--Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

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.

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.


About the Author


Whitney Scharer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her short fiction has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Cimarron Review, and other journals. She's received an Emerging Artist Award in Literature from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, a Somerville Arts Council Artists grant, and been awarded a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The Age of Light is her first novel.

Praise For…


Named a most anticipated book of 2019 by Oprah.com, Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, Woman's Day, and Pop Sugar

"Scharer's debut is a rivetingly sexy snapshot of the duo's real-life relationship as it morphs from apprenticeship to partnership to tumultuous love affair."
Kim Hubbard, People

"Whatever
reams of research Scharer put into excavating Miller's story she distills here
into clean, consistently evocative prose. The
glittering bohemia of 1930s Paris, the pastoral boredom of mid-'60s Sussex, the
hollowed-out carnage of postwar Europe; all come equally alive on the page, as
do iconic figures like Ray and Cocteau and Kiki de Montparnasse. But none
breathe more vividly than Miller herself: Fiercely independent but racked by
self-doubt, desperate for affection and approval even as she chafed at
sentiment, she spent decades fighting to find her voice. It was worth the wait."



Entertainment Weekly

"Like Paris in the
1930s, Sharer's first novel is a radiant clash
of romance and reality"—O, the Oprah Magazine

"She joins such
novelists as Paula McLain ("The Paris Wife") and Rupert Thomson ("Never Anyone
but You") in a most worthy enterprise: repopulating male-dominated accounts of
the past with the many noteworthy women who deserve the same limelight."—Donna Rikfind, Washington Post

"Scharer...skillfully
renders an electric version of the city, pulling the reader into the opulence
and mystery of the era."—Annabel Gutterman, Time

"An absolutely gorgeous and feminist novel about art, love, and ownership, The Age of Light is truly a work of art in itself, both deeply moving and thrilling. Want to know what it's like to be an artist? Read this astonishing novel and then, like Lee Miller, take time to consider the extraordinary cost she paid to be herself."—Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe

"Is "woman behaves
dangerously, lives wildly" a genre? If so, The Age of Light is its latest
poster child. The novel is work of historical fiction about Lee Miller, a Vogue
model who became one of the first female war correspondents. In Scharer's plot,
Miller travels to Paris where she meets photographer Man Ray, who becomes her
collaborator and lover. While most stories about Miller paint her as Ray's
muse, this one portrays her as the independent and daring artist she truly
was."—Glamour

Scharer's debut is
both engrossing and cinematic, a must for readers who enjoy a fictional peek
into the lives of real-life artists.—Library Journal

"Scharer sets her
viewfinder selectively, focusing on her heroine's insecurities as much as her
accomplishments as an artist; her hunger to be more than "a neck to hold
pearls, a slim waist to show off a belt" is contrasted with her habit of
solving problems by simply leaving. The price for Lee is steep, but it makes
for irresistible reading. Sexy and moving."—Kirkus, starred review

"Scharer's intoxicating first novel...bring[s] a stunning chiaroscuro effect to the saga of a woman transforming herself into an artist."—Booklist, starred review

"Scharer's stellar debut chronicles the tumultuous working
and romantic relationships of photographer Man Ray and
model-turned-photographer Lee Miller in early 1930s Paris...This brilliant
portrayal of the complicated couple features a page-turning story and
thrillingly depicts the artistic process."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Rapturous and razor sharp all
at once, The Age of Light fearlessly unzips anything we might know of
Lee Miller as model and muse and recasts her as artist, free thinker and
architect of a singular and unapologetic life. Whitney Scharer is a stunning
new discovery. This novel sparks on every page."—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Love and Ruin

"Whitney
Scharer's storytelling is utterly immersive and gorgeous in its details,
transporting you into Lee Miller's life, and her struggles to be taken
seriously in a man's world. This is a powerful, sensual and gripping portrait
of the forging of an artist's soul."—Madeline Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Circe and Song of Achilles

"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."—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

"An
extraordinary young woman discovers love and art and betrayal among the artists
of 1930s Paris and documents the horrors of war through her singular camera
lens. An uplifting, heartbreaking and altogether immersive read."—Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Before the War and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

"The
Age of Light
is a bold, intimate and gorgeous novel-at once a vivid romp
through the salons and parties of the Paris art world in the 1930s and a
breathtaking close up of a woman battling to be both muse and artist, lover and
collaborator, and above all, herself. This is a relevant, utterly enthralling
debut from a talented writer who understands the complex intersection of
ambition and femininity. I was swept off my feet."—Jessica Shattuck, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Castle and The Hazards of Good Breeding

"When
I first read The Age of Light, I thought it might have been written
expressly for me, since it has everything I love in it: photography, sex, love,
war, 1920s Paris, a relationship struggle between two artists, a woman's
journey from model to photographer, and the most exquisite writing.
Then I realized: this magnetic, addictive novel will beguile every reader.
Read it, read it!"—Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family

"A masterpiece, The Age of Light is a
searing, evocative novel of love and war, and a woman's fierce determination to
transcend her role as muse and remake the world through her own art. Whitney
Scharer is a remarkably gifted storyteller - a major new voice in historical fiction."—Dawn Tripp, bestselling author of Georgia and Game of Secrets

"Scharer's scrupulous research and dazzling prose fuse to
create a captivating portrait of the little-known - but now unforgettable - Lee
Miller, whose exceptional beauty, bold conviction, and rare
talent disrupted the male-centric art scene of 1920's Paris."—Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316524087
ISBN-10: 0316524085
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Pages: 384
Language: English