Picador pre-empts hotly contested American debut novel based on the life of Lee Miller

The debut novel by Whitney Scharer will be published in 2019.

A debut novel that sparked a major US bidding war has been pre-empted by Picador Publishing Director Francesca Main within 48 hours of submission. The Age of Light will be a lead debut title for Picador in Spring 2019.

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer tells the story of the passionate, turbulent relationship between model turned photographer Lee Miller and the Surrealist artist Man Ray, tracing Miller's life from her arrival in the bohemian Paris of 1929 through her years as a war correspondent to finding fame as a photographer and beyond. As Miller rejects the role of muse and asserts herself as an artist, Man's jealousy spirals out of control, and their mutual betrayals almost destroy them both.

Author Whitney Scharer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her short fiction has appeared in numerous journals. The Age of Light is her first novel.

Of the novel, Francesca Main said: ‘The Age of Light is nothing short of a masterpiece. I was immediately entranced by the intoxicating setting and mesmerising cast of characters, but what I loved most was the dazzling, complex figure of Lee Miller herself and the way Whitney Scharer has shed new light on a pioneering artist who might otherwise have remained in the shadow of the man she inspired. All of us at Picador are thrilled to have the honour of bringing this stunning novel to readers in the UK.'

Main acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein on behalf of Julie Barer at The Book Group. US rights subsequently sold to Judy Clain at Little, Brown. Foreign rights have sold in nine countries including Germany, Holland and Italy, and further auctions are underway in multiple translation territories.

The Age of Light

by Whitney Scharer

Book cover for The Age of Light

For fans of Mrs Hemingway and The Paris Wife, Whitney Scharer's The Age of Light is the riveting, vivid and powerful story of the photographer Lee Miller and her lover, Man Ray.

Model. Muse. Lover. Artist.

Paris, 1929. Lee Miller has abandoned her life in New York and a modelling career at Vogue to pursue her dream of becoming a photographer. When she catches the eye of artist Man Ray she convinces him to hire her as his assistant. Man is an egotistical, charismatic force and they soon embark upon a passionate affair.

Lee and Man spend their days working closely in the studio and their nights at smoky cabarets and wild parties. But as Lee begins to assert herself, and to create pioneering work of her own, Man's jealousy spirals out of control and leads to a betrayal that threatens to destroy them both . . .

‘Powerful, sensual and gripping’ - Madeleine Miller, author of Circe
‘Fans of Mrs Hemingway and The Paris Wife will love this one’ - Elle