Thank you to TLC book tours and William Morrow books for sending me a free copy of Learning To See in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis from Amazon:
In 1918, a fearless twenty-two-year old arrives in bohemian San Francisco from the Northeast, determined to make her own way as an independent woman. Renaming herself Dorothea Lange she is soon the celebrated owner of the city’s most prestigious and stylish portrait studio and wife of the talented but volatile painter, Maynard Dixon.
By the early 1930s, as America’s economy collapses, her marriage founders and Dorothea must find ways to support her two young sons single-handedly. Determined to expose the horrific conditions of the nation’s poor, she takes to the road with her camera, creating images that inspire, reform, and define the era. And when the United States enters World War II, Dorothea chooses to confront another injustice—the incarceration of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans.
At a time when women were supposed to keep the home fires burning, Dorothea Lange, creator of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, dares to be different. But her choices came at a steep price…
Elise Hooper has a real gift at writing history in such a relatable storytelling fashion. Learning To See is her second novel about a lesser talked woman in history. Her first book, The Other Alcott, focused on the sister of the famous Louisa May Alcott and her journey with a career in art. Learning To See is about Dorothea Lange, and while I am familiar with her most famous photograph, I must admit I didn’t know she was the artist behind the camera.
This book had a fun and refreshing setting: San Francisco in the 1930’s! I realized that many books I have read that take place in this time period are set in New York City so this setting was a breath of fresh air. The beautiful sunny weather and the landscapes of the nearby locales in Arizona and New Mexico were described in breathtaking clarity and added such a lush setting to the novel.
Dorothea Lang’s fascinating life was a pleasure to read about as well as that of her first husband Maynard Dixon. I was googling both of their art while reading this book. Knowing how Dorothea’s photography evolved from commercial to something artistic and meaningful made the pictures I found even more beautiful.
I always love learning from what I read and Learning To See taught me about two American artists and an in depth look at life during the depression. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend to art lovers and historical fiction lovers alike!
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