Paris is one of my favorite cities that I've traveled too! So, I was very excited when this week's book took me back to one of the most gorgeous cities!
This week's book is filled with artistic ambition, turbulent love affairs, and war-time trauma. It was both poetic and poignant. I both rooted for and rooted against the lead character; it was a journey from start to finish, that's for sure!
The story begins with Lee Miller, a former Vogue model, moving to Paris. She is lonely, broke, and wondering what she's doing there. After accidentally meeting some unique characters, Lee ends up at a party where she meets the famed photographer Man Ray. He tells Lee to call on him at his studio.
Lee goes to the studio and soon begins to work as Man's assistant. Lee begins to take pictures of the beauty around her after Man offers to let her use the darkroom.
Soon, the pair begin an affair, and Lee moves into an apartment Man bought for her.
Lee has a talent for photography to the point that Man takes notice of what she can do. Soon, the pair move in to together and secrets from Man's past come to light. The pair begin experimenting in the bedroom, which leads to Lee relieve her childhood rape.
As Man becomes more controlling of his muse, Lee returns to modeling, and realizes she missed it.
Soon, Lee sleeps with Antonio, a man who builds sets for the ballet. As Lee's guilt is eating her, she learns that Man submitted her photos to a competition claiming they were his.
She plots her revenge, inviting both Man and Antonio to the same party. When it escalates, Lee reveals she knows what Man has done, and when he doesn't answer correctly, she decides to end their tumultuous relationship.
Interspersed between chapters are vignettes of Lee's time as a war correspondent and photographer during World War II.
The novel ends years later, at an art exhibit of Man's work, where Lee and Man meet one last time before Lee dies of cancer.
I found this book to be very well written, even poetic at times. I really wanted to like Lee, since she is the main character, but there were times when I actually kind of hated her as a character. I think Scharer does a good job of humanizing Lee so that you like and dislike her equally.
What I found really striking about this novel was that was based on real people (I love a good historical fiction; it might be my favorite genre!)! I found Lee Miller to be fascinating, once I realized she was real, and her work to be very evocative.
While the story focused on the relationship between Man and Lee, I think that Scharer added those moments from the war. It added a new layer to Lee's story, and made her that much more interesting.
I would give The Age of Light a 4 out of 5.