The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
The Age of Light is a fascinating novel about Lee Miller, who was a Vogue model, photographer, war correspondent and later gourmet cook, which mainly centres on the passionate love affair she had with the famous Surrealist artist Man Ray in Paris in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Lee Miller arrives in Paris in 1929, leaving behind her life in New York and a successful modelling career at Vogue to follow her dream of being on the other side of the camera as a photographer. When she catches the eye of Man Ray, he wants her to model for him, but she convinces him to take her on his assistant. At first, things are strictly professional, and Lee relishes learning as much as she can about photography from this talented artist – but soon they have embarked on a passionate love affair, and Lee has become Man Ray’s muse.
They spend their days working together closely in Man Ray’s studio, or out on the town in Paris or ensconced in Man Ray’s apartment. But over time Lee begins to develop her photographic style and to assert herself, but Man Ray seems unwilling to let her be her own artist truly – and everything comes to a head when he takes her work is his own, entering a prestigious competition.
The novel is mainly set in Paris during the time of their love affair, but it also touches on her years as a war correspondent, and the terrible impact the war had on her life afterward. Lee is an extraordinary story of a woman’s life that encompasses tragedy from a young age, talent, beauty, ambition, love and obsession, and finally to a woman making her way in the world on her terms and with her vision. The Age of Light is mesmerizing, powerful and sensual, and a gripping story of an artist striving to be taken seriously in a man’s world and seeking her independence.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $34.99