The Age of Light is an intriguing historical fiction novel based on the life of Lee Miller. The novel focuses on her life in Europe. Miller first arrives in Europe and begins working as a photographer. She meets Man Ray on her travels through Paris and becomes his apprentice and later, business partner and lover.
The book focused a lot on Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray which I found to be puzzling. She only spent three years with him before moving on to become an accomplish photographer and war correspondent. Miller spent her entire life attempting to get out of Man Ray’s shadow. The story weaves between the past and her present (1960s) when she has been asked to produce a piece for Vogue about the art they created together.
The book explores the galleries, the parties, the sexual experimentation and drug experimentation that was pervasive in 1920 Surrealism circles. It was a bit raunchy at times to read and I’m not sure how much it added to the story. However, I don’t know much about these artists. This may have been a tame retelling of their actual lives.
The big takeaway from the book was that Lee Miller was a powerful woman. She had adversity her entire life. Men were constantly trying to sabotage her or hurt her but she never allowed them to derail her. She lived her life on her own terms.
The Age of Light is Whitney Scharer’s debut novel. This was the 2019 February selection for the Odyssey Bookshop First Edition Book Club.
Anya St. Clair is a fashion assistant who finally has her dream job. Now all she needs is Sarah Taft to realize that she is her best friend. Sarah is the person who inspired Anya to join the fashion world. Her boss throws a wrench in those plans when she dangles s promotion between Anya and Sarah. If Anya secures the promotion, she knows she will finally get Sarah’s approval. She will stop at nothing. Thus begins Anya’s dark descent into securing her promotion. Pretty soon, all of Anya’s enemies (real and perceived) begin dropping like flies.
This book is a hilarious satire about the fashion world and female competition. It also looks into hidden female rage. Women are not allowed to be angry. It is drilled into our head that we can’t be angry or upset ever. Women are taught to always smile. Furthermore, it is drilled into women’s head that they need to be thin and young looking in order to be successful. While this is true across industries, it is especially true in the fashion world. As Anya guides us through her world, she observes that many of these standards are unfair but she still works to fit into the standards. Even though her methods are far from conventional, she manages to get the end result she wants.
Seeing as we are about to embark on the holiday gorge of extreme consumer spending, this book is the perfect book to review this week. I found this book in the Cosmopolitan magazine monthly book recommendations. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I think the blurb said something about fighting your best friend for a job promotion. Similar to our unreliable narrator Anya, that blurb is not quite how I would describe the novel if only given three sentences.
Final Thoughts: Big props to Amina Akhtar for coming up with this story and sharing it with the masses. It’s definitely a dark twist on what type of people the fashion industry breeds but it is highly entertaining. Thank you Amina for spinning your fashion world observations into a wickedly funny novel.
I decided to read I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid because it was pitched to be in the same category of Eileen. On the inside flap, it said Reid’s debut novel was reminiscent of We Need To Talk About Kevin. I assumed that this story was simply a story of violence against women.
When I first finished the book, I didn’t know what to think about it. Granted it was the middle of the night and I went from being creeped out to confused. However, I’ve had a couple of days to digest the book and I will say I’m impressed. The story is interesting and the structure of the novel is unique.
Reid does a great job of building fear and anxiety in the reader. What I find so fascinating is that he builds it incrementally in a genuine, believable way. In horror/thrillers, some authors full into the trap of writing shocking scenes or situations just to shock the reader rather than progress the plot line.
In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, the reader slowly feels more upset and anxious without being able to put a finger on what is causing the feelings. I would feel my chest tighten. I was reading this book before bed and every time I would stop to go to bed my mind was spinning with possibilities about what was going on. In the final pages of the novel, you are surprised and flipping back and forth to try and find a sign you missed earlier in the novel.
Great debut. I am interested to see what else Iain Reid has for us in that head of his.