Hot Best Seller

Learning to See

Availability: Ready to download

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. Now, in this riveting new novel by the author of The Other Alcott, we see the world through her eyes…In 1918, a fearless twenty-two-year old arrives in bohemian San Francisco from the Northeast, determined to 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. Now, in this riveting new novel by the author of The Other Alcott, we see the world through her eyes…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. Learning to See is a gripping account of the ambitious woman behind the camera who risked everything for art, activism, and love. But her choices came at a steep price…


Compare

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. Now, in this riveting new novel by the author of The Other Alcott, we see the world through her eyes…In 1918, a fearless twenty-two-year old arrives in bohemian San Francisco from the Northeast, determined to 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. Now, in this riveting new novel by the author of The Other Alcott, we see the world through her eyes…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. Learning to See is a gripping account of the ambitious woman behind the camera who risked everything for art, activism, and love. But her choices came at a steep price…

30 review for Learning to See

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Learning to See tells the story of Dorothea Lange’s extraordinary life and her efforts to expose severe social injustices during the 1930s and 1940s. Lange spent the early years of her career in San Francisco as a portrait photographer. After her marriage begins to crumble and the U.S. economy collapses with the onset of the Great Depression, Lange must find a way to support her two young sons. She begins to travel around California capturing images of the Dust Bowl migrants and others who heade Learning to See tells the story of Dorothea Lange’s extraordinary life and her efforts to expose severe social injustices during the 1930s and 1940s. Lange spent the early years of her career in San Francisco as a portrait photographer. After her marriage begins to crumble and the U.S. economy collapses with the onset of the Great Depression, Lange must find a way to support her two young sons. She begins to travel around California capturing images of the Dust Bowl migrants and others who headed west during the 1930s transforming herself into an advocate and activist for the poor. After World War 2 began, Lange focused on the Japanese American internment camps exposing the horrific conditions under which these poor people were placed. Dorothea Lange’s photographs from the Great Depression era and the Japanese American internment camps are iconic and part of the fabric of our culture. Hooper’s novel brings the woman behind those photos to life including the sacrifices she made personally to bring about social change for those less fortunate. I loved that Hooper includes some of Lange’s photographs at the end of the book. While I was familiar with some of them, there were several I had never seen before, and it was enthralling to pore over the photos and Hooper’s caption for each photo. Learning to See is a tribute to an important American whose humanitarian efforts shone a spotlight on the poor and later the incarceration of Japanese Americans. The structure of the book is fabulous – Hooper begins in 1964 as Lange has received a letter from MoMA about launching a retrospective of her work and then travels back in time to tell Lange’s tale. I cannot say enough good things about Learning to See; Elise Hooper has written a book that every American should read about an important person and era in the history of the United States.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    3.5 stars and my thanks to LibraryThing.com for the advanced copy. Photographer Dorothea Lange's most famous work is probably Migrant Mother taken in 1936 during the Great Depression, but it was her later work in the Japanese internment camps that got my attention. An independent portrait photographer, she hired herself out to the U.S. government when times got rough, to document living conditions for migrants that officials in Washington DC had no way of knowing. They both appreciated her talent 3.5 stars and my thanks to LibraryThing.com for the advanced copy. Photographer Dorothea Lange's most famous work is probably Migrant Mother taken in 1936 during the Great Depression, but it was her later work in the Japanese internment camps that got my attention. An independent portrait photographer, she hired herself out to the U.S. government when times got rough, to document living conditions for migrants that officials in Washington DC had no way of knowing. They both appreciated her talent and regretted her perseverance. She wanted to show too much of the real truth, while the government thought some things were better left unknown. Once she began working at the internment camps, she discovered illegal practices and deplorable living conditions (people expected to live inside a horse stall, for one); and she would not be quiet or accepting of it like so many others were at that time. She had many of her negatives impounded, destroyed, and even now most exist only in the National Archives. Her career enveloped her two marriages and made it impossible to care for her two sons at times, not without tremendous cost. Some of her decisions were questionable, but then I wasn't there during those war and poverty years, so cannot judge too harshly. One of her sons was unforgiving for many years. This was good once it got into the meat of the story about halfway through. The background and the build up were long, perhaps to facilitate the character development of Dorothea and her artist husband Maynard Dixon, of whom I knew nothing. The second half is definitely better than the first, so don't give up on it. The ARC ends with some great supplemental material, including an interview with the author and some of Lange's photos. This added much to my enjoyment.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    I had never heard about Dorothea Lange before I read this book, but the blurb intrigued me. I love reading about women who were brave enough to follow their dreams and LEARNING TO SEE is definitely a book that is worth reading. READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Asheley

    I really loved this book! 4.5/5 It's so, so funny how life works out sometimes. When I was in high school, my AP US History teacher of all time (my favorite teacher of all time) often started class by showing us iconic images and then facilitated critical thinking discussions about what we were seeing, what may have led the photographer to take the photo, etc etc. He used many of Dorothea Lange's photographs and they have been cemented in my brain throughout my life, which led me to do the same th I really loved this book! 4.5/5 It's so, so funny how life works out sometimes. When I was in high school, my AP US History teacher of all time (my favorite teacher of all time) often started class by showing us iconic images and then facilitated critical thinking discussions about what we were seeing, what may have led the photographer to take the photo, etc etc. He used many of Dorothea Lange's photographs and they have been cemented in my brain throughout my life, which led me to do the same thing with my own high school-aged kids in our homeschool. We discuss the importance of images, not only to preserve the real history of the time for us to see for ourselves, but also as potential forms of subversion and protest and speaking out. I never could have foreseen that years later, a book like Learning To See by Elise Hooper would enter my bookish life! I've been a huge fan of Dorothea Lange's work for years-learning from it, using it to educate my children-so when I got the chance to read and review this book, I leaped upon it, Olympic-style. I have also read and loved Ms. Hooper's previous book, The Last Alcott, so I had all ideas that I would love this one too. And I did. The book begins when Dorothea Lange moved to San Francisco in the early 1900's. She lived among other artists and photographers, so she was really fortunate to be present in a place where she could blossom as an artist herself. She was ambitious for a woman during that time in America's history, when women were most often still staying at home, married and raising families. She got her beginning as a portrait photographer and was really successful at that, but she was more fulfilled when she was out among the people, roaming around, taking the pictures that told the stories of what life was really like out in America for people that didn't have a voice, particularly the folks trying to find work during the Dust Bowl-era and Japanese Americans that had been relocated during the Second World War. Her work was noticed, and I mean noticed-some of it was actually censored because of the truth she exposes. Not only do I love the actual historical significance of Lange's work in this narrative, I love what Ms. Hooper has shared with us about her life. Dorothea Lange lived during a time when women had expectations and roles in terms of marriage and motherhood, and even though she was incredibly driven and successful professionally, she still carried the majority of the parenting duties. In Lange's case, marriage and parenting was particularly difficult. I'm not sure whether or not it would have been any easier had she been married to someone other than a famous artist like Maynard Dixon (whose work is also amazing), but these two had an interesting go of it, to say the least. I feel like it is important to say that this is a work of fiction, but it is well-researched and I feel like I was able to get a good feel not only for Ms. Lange, but for her contemporaries and for the time in which she was living. Speaking of contemporaries, there are so many cool people mentioned in this book. So many people that Ms. Lange crossed paths with and communicated with-I think that's one of the neater parts about her story. There is a part involving John Steinbeck and his incredible novel The Grapes of Wrath that sticks out in my mind LIKE WHOA because it is my top-favorite classic novel. I read this part three times and feel like I want to do a little bit more research on this! Certainly with the subject matter of many of Ms. Lange's photos and also the subject of The Grapes of Wrath being similar in nature, this interests me greatly. But no spoilers here! I'm just always in awe of women that lived during these times when their roles were so defined with so little wiggle-room and yet are able to be so successful, driven, and productive. Ms. Lange contributed so much to society and history, and we are still able to benefit from her work-perhaps more than ever before-and I'm just a huge, huge fan of her work. And this book. I highly, highly recommend Learning To See by Elise Hooper for people that enjoy reading stories about women in history, stories about art, stories about the Depression-era or the Dust Bowl-era or even the period of time surrounding the Second World War. Even though this book isn't really about the war itself, Lange's work and what she experienced when she was out working helps to paint a picture of what the landscape of America was like during that time. Dorothea Lange is a flat-out icon and holy batman, this story is just really, really excellent. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you, William Morrow Books! Find this review and more like it on my blog, Into the Hall of Books!

  5. 4 out of 5

    KC

    In 1918, photographer Dorothea Lange leaves NYC and heads to San Francisco, eager to make a name for herself. She soon meets and falls in love with Maynard Dixon, an extremely capacious natured painter. Throughout her time there, she meets fellow artists like Frida Kahlo, writers and numerous talents. Faced with the relenting desire with trying to capture the true picture of the times, she find herself struggling between work, marriage and motherhood. This fascinating tale is for fans of Marie B In 1918, photographer Dorothea Lange leaves NYC and heads to San Francisco, eager to make a name for herself. She soon meets and falls in love with Maynard Dixon, an extremely capacious natured painter. Throughout her time there, she meets fellow artists like Frida Kahlo, writers and numerous talents. Faced with the relenting desire with trying to capture the true picture of the times, she find herself struggling between work, marriage and motherhood. This fascinating tale is for fans of Marie Benedict and Fiona Davis.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella | The Novel Nook

    A massive thank you to Elise Hooper and William Morrow for my ARC of LEARNING TO SEE! This novel tells the story of photographer Dorothea Lange, a woman I knew very little about, and I absolutely loved learning about her! This story is so beautifully written, full of historical detail and engaging characters and environments, all as real and vivid as Dorothea’s photographs (some of which are included at the end of the novel, which I appreciated SO much). Dorothea Lange was such a driven and insp A massive thank you to Elise Hooper and William Morrow for my ARC of LEARNING TO SEE! This novel tells the story of photographer Dorothea Lange, a woman I knew very little about, and I absolutely loved learning about her! This story is so beautifully written, full of historical detail and engaging characters and environments, all as real and vivid as Dorothea’s photographs (some of which are included at the end of the novel, which I appreciated SO much). Dorothea Lange was such a driven and inspiring woman, and I loved getting to know her and meeting the artists, creators, and other famous people who surrounded her throughout her life (Imogen Cunningham, Maynard Dixon, and Frida Khalo, to name a very few). I thoroughly enjoyed this work and highly recommend it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chanel Cleeton

    A powerful and timely view of America told through the lens of Dorothea Lange, a fascinating woman whose photographs shone a light on the nation's forgotten and abandoned. Learning to See is both a sweeping portrayal of the effects of the Great Depression and World War II and an intimate look at Lange's relationships, advocacy, and photography. Detailed and thoroughly immersive, Learning to See grips the reader and highlights an important period in American history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I knew the photography of Dorothea Lange but little about her personal life so I was glad to be given the opportunity to read Learning to See by Elise Hooper. Hooper's novel offers an accessible narrative of Lange's life from her point of view. Lange's childhood polio left her with a limp from a deformed foot. She established a successful portrait photography career until the Depression when her work dwindled. With two children and an artist husband, Lange had to give up her studio to work for the I knew the photography of Dorothea Lange but little about her personal life so I was glad to be given the opportunity to read Learning to See by Elise Hooper. Hooper's novel offers an accessible narrative of Lange's life from her point of view. Lange's childhood polio left her with a limp from a deformed foot. She established a successful portrait photography career until the Depression when her work dwindled. With two children and an artist husband, Lange had to give up her studio to work for the Farm Security Administration. Using her portrait experience, Lange created iconic photographs that recorded the devastation of the Dust Bowl and the misery of farm migrants. During WWII she was employed by the Office of War Information to document the internment of Japanese Americans. Through Lange's eyes, readers experience the human suffering of poverty and systemic racism. Lange's marriage to her first husband, artist Maynard Dixon, was strained. Her extensive traveling meant leaving her sons and the book addresses her son's anger and acting out. While photographing for the OWI she worked with Paul Taylor who became her second husband. Famous photographers appear in the story's background, including Ansel Adams. The novel is "inspired" by Lange's life. Hooper offers a woman filled with doubts and remorse while facing up to the authorities who repress the photographs that too honestly recorded atrocities and the forgotten. Lange's life as an artist and a woman will enthrall readers. I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I received a giveaway copy from goodreads for a review. This book is about Dorthea Lange. although it is based on a real life person the author writes a book of fiction about the real Dorthea Lange. she imagines by collecting facts about the photographer what her life may have been like. Dorthea Lange was a prize winning photographer. Her most famous pictures were from the depression era, the dustbowl migrants and in the forties when she visited internment camps that housed the Japenese citizens I received a giveaway copy from goodreads for a review. This book is about Dorthea Lange. although it is based on a real life person the author writes a book of fiction about the real Dorthea Lange. she imagines by collecting facts about the photographer what her life may have been like. Dorthea Lange was a prize winning photographer. Her most famous pictures were from the depression era, the dustbowl migrants and in the forties when she visited internment camps that housed the Japenese citizens. Dorthea Lange was famous for her pictures because she managed to catch people in their situations that opened up for conversations. The author includes some of dorthea's more famous pictures. I found the book an interesting one to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carol (Reading Ladies)

    4.5 stars Thanks to #WilliamMorrow #HarperCollins for my free copy of #LearningtoSee by Elise Hooper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. "It takes a lot of practice to see things are they are, not as you want them to be." (P 121) Learning to See is a fictionalized biography inspired by real life photographer, Dorothea Lange. We first meet twenty-two year old Dorothea in 1918 as she arrives in San Francisco with her best friend. Through wit and a determination to create her o 4.5 stars Thanks to #WilliamMorrow #HarperCollins for my free copy of #LearningtoSee by Elise Hooper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. "It takes a lot of practice to see things are they are, not as you want them to be." (P 121) Learning to See is a fictionalized biography inspired by real life photographer, Dorothea Lange. We first meet twenty-two year old Dorothea in 1918 as she arrives in San Francisco with her best friend. Through wit and a determination to create her own life far from her home in the Northeast, Dorothea takes a risk to open a portrait studio and marries an older independent artist, Maynard Dixon. Dorothea's portrait studio is well established and provides a steady and dependable income for their growing family of two children when the economy collapses in the 1930s. This puts tremendous strain on an already fragile marriage and Dorothea desperately seeks out ways to support her two young sons and a drunken, disillusioned, and out-of-work husband. As Dorothea's portrait business suffers in the economy, she begins to take pictures of the poor and desperate people on the streets of San Francisco. In addition, she travels throughout California and the Southwest documenting labor conditions on farms, and she gradually realizes that these pictures are more meaningful than what she produces in her portrait studio because her pictures from the streets and fields are telling a true story of the economic hardships that people are facing. Later, the United States enters WW11 and Dorothea accepts jobs photographing the internment camps into which the Japanese have been placed. Not everyone appreciates seeing the truth of these pictures and she is censored, threatened, and discouraged. This doesn't deter Dorothea from her travels, her photographs, or her purpose. There's a dual timeline running through the story which allows the reader to know Dorothea at the end of her life. The extensive research that went into the telling of this story is evident. Not only is there an abundance of historical facts and descriptive details which enable readers to feel like they are experiencing life in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, but the author also puts a great deal of effort and thought into building a case for the possible motives that inspire Dorothea to take certain actions. I had a difficult time accepting the decision Dorothea made for the care of her children, but the details in the story left me with a reasonable ability to understand Dorothea's actions. Certainly, some important themes include the plight of working mothers in that time, the hardships of the depression, marriage to someone that is not a full or dependable partner, loyal friendship and support from other women, making difficult decisions to follow your dreams/passions and accepting the consequences of that decision, taking risks, the effects of childhood experiences on adults, and character traits of pioneers. Dorothea Lange is remembered today for her photography work and her indomitable spirit. I think you'll enjoy the historical setting and this imagined story of her life behind the facts. Throughout the story, the title of Learning to See takes on multiple meanings. As an artist, Dorothea is not afraid to photograph what she actually sees and not what others want or expect to see. As a mother and wife, Dorothea sees (or intuits) the emotional help her troubled son needs, and she also sees the truth of her marriage to Maynard. Dorothea sees injustice and has a vision for meaningful work, and she is willing to take the risks to follow her passion despite the sacrifices. She is not afraid of hard work or activism, and perseveres in spite of obstacles. "I was a photographer of people--men, women, and children who worked, suffered, rested, and loved. .... I lived for the moment when time slowed, when I could capture an expression or gesture that communicated everything. I needed more of those moments. If I was going to give up my family, every second needed to count. The sacrifice had to be worth something bigger than me." (p 179) I love stories of real women, and even though Dorothea might not be the most well liked character, I'm highly recommending Learning to See for fans of well written and extensively researched historical fiction, for readers who are looking for a story of a strong, independent, and pioneering woman, and for those who want an engaging page turner. Learning to See is nicely paced with well drawn characters, and some readers might want to know that it includes some romantic details. It would make a good book club selection because of interesting discussion topics. Pub Date: January 22, 2019 For more reviews visit my blog readingladies.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    MASTERFUL I count the author as one of my bookish friends and I’m so grateful she entrusted me with review copies of her novels ❤ . Her first title THE OTHER ALCOTT was a natural hit for me given the subject matter ~ Louisa May Alcott’s sister, Amy. However, I had never even HEARD of Dorothea Lange before reading LEARNING TO SEE and now I’m absolutely obsessed with this groundbreaking photographer. Hooper writes historical fiction about fascinating women and does what so many other writers avoid ~ MASTERFUL I count the author as one of my bookish friends and I’m so grateful she entrusted me with review copies of her novels ❤️ . Her first title THE OTHER ALCOTT was a natural hit for me given the subject matter ~ Louisa May Alcott’s sister, Amy. However, I had never even HEARD of Dorothea Lange before reading LEARNING TO SEE and now I’m absolutely obsessed with this groundbreaking photographer. Hooper writes historical fiction about fascinating women and does what so many other writers avoid ~ writing the REAL woman. Not a romantic fluffy version. And that is everything to me. . I’ll (probably) share a more in-depth review of LEARNING TO SEE closer to the 1.22.19 pub date, but for now just know it’s fabulous, fascinating and an intense look at United States in the 1920s - 1940s. Covering the Great Depression and internment of Japanese Americans, it taught me so much. 5 feminist stars! . If you read this genre, pre-order or request from your library now! And you can read THE OTHER ALCOTT while you wait.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Homeschoolmama

    I remember years ago seeing Dorothea Lange's famous photograph Migrant Mother. http://100photos.time.com/photos/doro... It always brought wonder to me, seeing this image of a woman sitting with her children, hand to her face, looking forlorn, world-weary, bedraggled. I'd not heard much about the photographer until recently. Learning to See is Elise Hooper's fictionalized account of Dorothea Lange's life, though it seems more like an actual biography. She based her story on documents, diaries, a I remember years ago seeing Dorothea Lange's famous photograph Migrant Mother. http://100photos.time.com/photos/doro... It always brought wonder to me, seeing this image of a woman sitting with her children, hand to her face, looking forlorn, world-weary, bedraggled. I'd not heard much about the photographer until recently. Learning to See is Elise Hooper's fictionalized account of Dorothea Lange's life, though it seems more like an actual biography. She based her story on documents, diaries, and documentaries. Some of the details were undoubtedly changed, but that is often the case with memoirs and biographies. Dorothea Lange was an interesting person to write about. She was a woman ahead of her time, who ventured out in a field dominated by men. As a young woman in her early twenties, she traveled with a friend to San Fransisco, only to find herself stranded without money or family , and made a way for herself. She opened her own portrait studio. She married twice, had two children, and traveled to different areas to capture photos of people. Lange wanted above all to expose truth. She saw herself as an activist-Her photos were her way of showing what was really going on in the far corners of the world. And so she snapped candids of migrants, of Japanese families in internment camps, of soldiers, children. Hooper does a great job of telling Lange's story. It's almost as if she interviewed Lange herself. I liked the way Hooper included imagined dialogues, between Lange and her husband, her friends and her sons. She doesn't insert any moral judgments either. At the end of this particular edition, an ARC, there is an afterword which summarizes briefly the end of Lange's life. There is also an interview with Hooper, a note on her sources, a reading group guide and some of Lange's photos. Delightful read. I'm curious to learn more about this remarkable woman and her art. So far this is very good! Received an ARC from librarything. Looking forward to reading this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Jaeger

    A beautiful portrait of the life and activism of Dorothea Lange. San Francisco during Lange's early career in the 1920s is particularly vivid. I learned so much more about Lange and her Depression Era photography than I already knew from the famous portrait Migrant Mother. A wonderful book for fans of historical fiction, strong female protagonists and book clubs. Highly recommended!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    4.5 stars. "Learning to See" is a fictionalized story of great American photographer Dorothea Lange. Even if you don't think you know her name, you probably know her work. She is best known for some of the work that she did capturing people in difficult circumstances during the early to mid part of the 20th century. This book gives a great picture of what Lange was like behind the scenes. Well-researched, this book has so much good detail. We get to see how Dorothea goes from a fledgling photogr 4.5 stars. "Learning to See" is a fictionalized story of great American photographer Dorothea Lange. Even if you don't think you know her name, you probably know her work. She is best known for some of the work that she did capturing people in difficult circumstances during the early to mid part of the 20th century. This book gives a great picture of what Lange was like behind the scenes. Well-researched, this book has so much good detail. We get to see how Dorothea goes from a fledgling photographer to a very sought after photographer, well known for her work. As she is starting her career, she meets the volatile artist Maynard Dixon and starts a family. I really appreciated her meditations on the difficulty of having a successful career (especially during a time where this was just not something a woman did) and balancing it with a family. Dorothea feels pulled in a million different directions and wants to find a way to make it all work. I really liked the writing in this book. The descriptions are wonderful. We get to see the action through Dorothea's eyes, which I thought was super effective in pulling me far into the book. This is a little hard to explain but I thought the author did a really good job of moving us through the highlights (and lowlights) of Dorothea's career and her personal life. Lange feels more like a friend. I loved getting to know the back story behind some of her most iconic work. This book is a great tribute to her!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy (TheSouthernGirlReads)

    For me the need to research when I finish a book based on a real life person is a testament to an amazing book. Learning to See did that for me. When I closed the book. I needed more. Wiki to the rescue...I was able to immerse myself in the life of Dorothea Lange even more. I loved this book. Elise is an amazing storyteller. The amount of research is absolutely staggering. ✨ I love historical fiction. It is a genre I hold close. The way Elise writes...based on true events is quite possibly my favo For me the need to research when I finish a book based on a real life person is a testament to an amazing book. Learning to See did that for me. When I closed the book. I needed more. Wiki to the rescue...I was able to immerse myself in the life of Dorothea Lange even more. I loved this book. Elise is an amazing storyteller. The amount of research is absolutely staggering. ✨ I love historical fiction. It is a genre I hold close. The way Elise writes...based on true events is quite possibly my favorite. I have a story saved in my highlights on Instagram about the book specifically...watch it. In the meantime. Put this book on your TBR for January 22. If you are a historical fiction fan, you will not be disappointed. If you want to read something she has out now...read The Other Alcott.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    An account of the life of Dorothea Lange which touches only briefly on her most famous photograph, Migrant Mother. Instead, Dorothea is personalized as a wife and mother, supporting her husbands emotionally and financially. I read this EARC courtesy of Wm. Morrow and Edelweiss. Pub date 01/22/19

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Duffy

    Gorgeously written with exquisite historical detail, Learning to See is a fascinating tale of one remarkable woman’s life. Told with the same precise prose and terrific nuance as her stunning debut, The Other Alcott, Elise Hooper proves once again that she’s a masterful storyteller.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Walsh

    One of the reasons why I enjoy fictional memoirs is because I often find parallels or a certain level of relativism, even in a different person's life, place, and time. This familiarity and plausible storyline often draws me in. And, Dorothea Lange's storyline definitely drew me in. I knew very little about her when I began Elise Hooper's sophomore novel, but I felt a kinship while reading. The following surfaced as my favorite line/sentiment from the uncorrected galley: "The prospect of not cha One of the reasons why I enjoy fictional memoirs is because I often find parallels or a certain level of relativism, even in a different person's life, place, and time. This familiarity and plausible storyline often draws me in. And, Dorothea Lange's storyline definitely drew me in. I knew very little about her when I began Elise Hooper's sophomore novel, but I felt a kinship while reading. The following surfaced as my favorite line/sentiment from the uncorrected galley: "The prospect of not challenging myself creatively left me desolate, yet ambition felt like a curse." Dorothea was determined, independent, compassionate, and passionate. I'm glad I now better know her place in history, told through Elise Hoopers well-crafted words. For all those historical fiction fans out there, this is a must read!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    Dorothea Lange, the famous photographer, was lucky her money got stolen that day and she and her friend ended up staying in San Francisco. She went from starting as a portrait photographer to pay the rent to become one of this country's leading artistic activists of the Depression Era and beyond. She wasn't the greatest wife, mother or possible friend but she made up for it in her determination to show the world the injustice in front of them through her stark photos. This is a riveting portrait Dorothea Lange, the famous photographer, was lucky her money got stolen that day and she and her friend ended up staying in San Francisco. She went from starting as a portrait photographer to pay the rent to become one of this country's leading artistic activists of the Depression Era and beyond. She wasn't the greatest wife, mother or possible friend but she made up for it in her determination to show the world the injustice in front of them through her stark photos. This is a riveting portrait of a woman ahead of her time, who refused to sit by and make pretty pictures when the poor and ill-treated had nowhere to turn and no one to speak for them. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janelle • She Reads with Cats

    Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours, William Morrow Books, and the author for my free copy of LEARNING TO SEE - Historical or biographical fiction - whatever you want to call it - this one was done well with an impressive amount of research. I enjoy reading about artists and their choices especially when it comes to writers and photographers so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. In 1918, twenty-two-year-old Dorothea Nutzhorn moved to San Francisco to make a life for herself. She opened Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours, William Morrow Books, and the author for my free copy of LEARNING TO SEE - Historical or biographical fiction - whatever you want to call it - this one was done well with an impressive amount of research. I enjoy reading about artists and their choices especially when it comes to writers and photographers so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. In 1918, twenty-two-year-old Dorothea Nutzhorn moved to San Francisco to make a life for herself. She opened a successful portrait studio, changed her name to Lange, fell in love with the capricious painter Maynard Dixon, they got married, and had two children. When her marriage splintered and the economy collapsed, she opted to take her work outside to travel around California to capture the dire conditions of migrant workers and the homeless. She became a humanitarian, an advocate, and humanized the people she photographed. When WW2 started, she documented the interment of Japanese Americans and the horrific conditions they were subjected to. She sacrificed for others and her photographs are still important to this day. Dorothea Lange is someone I’d briefly heard of but really knew nothing about. I had no idea she was such an advocate during the 1930’s and 40’s. Her story comes to life on the pages and shows us the human being behind the iconic photos. Hooper put her heart and soul in this novel and it shows with flying colors!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly McCord

    4.5 *s. Elise Hooper is quickly becoming one of my favorite historic fiction authors. In this book and her previous, The Other Alcott, she takes a historic figure and with an enormous amount of research builds a story around them. . This novel is about Dorothea Lange, a photographer who exposed the many social injustices occurring during The Great Depression and World War II. It depicts the struggle of an ambitious woman trying to support her two children at the same as confronting the inhumanitie 4.5 *s. Elise Hooper is quickly becoming one of my favorite historic fiction authors. In this book and her previous, The Other Alcott, she takes a historic figure and with an enormous amount of research builds a story around them. . This novel is about Dorothea Lange, a photographer who exposed the many social injustices occurring during The Great Depression and World War II. It depicts the struggle of an ambitious woman trying to support her two children at the same as confronting the inhumanities of this difficult time period. She is forced to make difficult decisions as a wife and mother. . I will pick up anything Elise writes. Her novels are incredibly readable and I trust them to be backed by thorough research.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lorri

    Learning to See, by Elise Hooper is a book that transported me back to post WWII, and the events that defined America's poverty stricken citizens. From Dorothea Lange's photographic documentation of that era in time, we see her move forward, through the decades and her involvement in WWII, and the suffering of the Japanese who are imprisoned in internment camps. She was a woman before her time, a woman who fought for social justice for everyone, no matter their background. Her steadfast concentra Learning to See, by Elise Hooper is a book that transported me back to post WWII, and the events that defined America's poverty stricken citizens. From Dorothea Lange's photographic documentation of that era in time, we see her move forward, through the decades and her involvement in WWII, and the suffering of the Japanese who are imprisoned in internment camps. She was a woman before her time, a woman who fought for social justice for everyone, no matter their background. Her steadfast concentration and devotion to humane causes can not be overlooked. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the story line. I was given a LibraryThing Early Reviewers copy of this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Basic B's Guide

    Rtc

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle S

    One of the Pop Sugar prompts is to read a novel based on a real person. This fit the bill and also had the advantage of being a novel about someone who I didn't know anything about. I found it to be engaging and Dorothea Lange had a fascinating life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    3.5 This book started off very slow, but picked up about 1/3 of the way in. It's an interesting and easy read about Dorthea Lange.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    What a timely story, with unavoidable parallels to tragedies underway today. It’s about Dorothea Lange, who until now most of us really only know through her famous photograph “Migrant Mother.” Hooper has imagined a full & furious life for Lange, who really did learn to see from behind a camera. She fought bravely against governmental indifference and censorship to help tell the true story of depression-era migrant workers and Japanese-American detention camps. She was a fierce lady, ahead o What a timely story, with unavoidable parallels to tragedies underway today. It’s about Dorothea Lange, who until now most of us really only know through her famous photograph “Migrant Mother.” Hooper has imagined a full & furious life for Lange, who really did learn to see from behind a camera. She fought bravely against governmental indifference and censorship to help tell the true story of depression-era migrant workers and Japanese-American detention camps. She was a fierce lady, ahead of her time, who struggled with the conflict between the demands of family and the call of her true passion. (The poor gal really needed good child care, but don’t we all?) A terrific book club choice for historical fiction fans.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    A year or so ago I found a copy of Mary Coin, a novel by Marisa Silver and recognized the cover picture as the iconic depression era Dorothea Lange image entitled Migrant Mother. After reading Mary Coin, a book I highly recommend, I was left with a yen to know more about documentary photography and Dorothea Lange. A new historical novel, Learning to See by Elise Hooper, imagines Dorothea Lange's life story using known facts and references. I was lucky to win an advanced copy from Early Readers/Li A year or so ago I found a copy of Mary Coin, a novel by Marisa Silver and recognized the cover picture as the iconic depression era Dorothea Lange image entitled Migrant Mother. After reading Mary Coin, a book I highly recommend, I was left with a yen to know more about documentary photography and Dorothea Lange. A new historical novel, Learning to See by Elise Hooper, imagines Dorothea Lange's life story using known facts and references. I was lucky to win an advanced copy from Early Readers/Library Thing. Chapter One. Opening scene. 1964, Berkley, California. If this was a movie script, Dorothea Lange, now elderly and gravely ill, would be seen opening an envelope embossed with the image of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The contents of that letter, we later learn, informs her of their plan for a retrospective exhibit of her life's work. The fictional Dorothea, returns the letter to her pocket and without sharing its news, turns to the reader to tell her life story in her own words and thoughts. Her flashbacks, narrated as though she is seated across the kitchen table from you; hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee. Listen carefully. Her story is complex; much like every person who puts a heavier hand on the scales of life for the greater good over the instinctive need to nurture and protect one's own family. Dorothea limps over to her desk; she contracted poliomyelitis when she was seven years old leaving her with a withered leg, a deformed foot, a permanent limp, and a spitfire will to overcome any other hardship life was ready to throw her way. That strong will, that need to conquer any challenge will cost her deeply as she must choose between her burgeoning social justice activism and photojournalism career and her personal life. "I lean over to open a drawer and retrieve [my] files. California, 1936. New Mexico, 1935. Texas, 1938. Arkansas, 1938, Arizona, 1940. Black-and-white photographs spill out...Faces of men, women, and children... They gave a face to the masses struggling to make ends meet. They started conversations... And while I don't regret my choices, I am saddened that I've hurt people dear to me." Dorothea achieved her childhood dream of becoming a photographer; a career choice diametrically opposed to the family ideal of academics and cultural interest in the arts. In 1918, a twenty-one-year-old Dorothea took the bull by the horns, dropped her birth name of Nutzhorn in favor of her mother's maiden name of Lange and headed to San Francisco to be as far away from New Jersey as she could get. Once there, she set up a portrait studio and was highly successful for the next ten years; satisfied to create the images of what people wanted others to see of them; not necessarily reflective of their true nature or circumstance. The Stock Market Crash in 1929 changed everyone's future. Her clientele disappeared one-by-one as family portraits become a luxury few could afford. By this time, she had married her first husband, Maynard Dixon, a hot-tempered philandering landscape painter with traveling "genes". Dorothea, the mother of two boys, found herself between a rock and a hard place. With a floundering marriage and two dependent children, she needed to find work in a world where everyone needed a job. As she struggled to find new footing, Dorothea made the heartbreaking decision to foster-out her boys to give them a stable caring home. A decision made after seeing children left to fend for themselves in the streets. I had reached a point where... portraits weren't enough. It wasn't just an issue of money... I needed to find...something to lose myself in. I needed work that would consume me, distract me from everything I had lost. Dorothea's efforts to see beyond her own pain led to a career learning to see beyond self. Taking a walk to clear her head she came upon a breadline of dispirited and lost souls stringing their way to a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. She feared she would disturb their private thoughts but was compelled to capture the moment. After taking the picture she realized no one had noticed her presence. This first photo led to twenty years of documenting the lives of the downtrodden with the goal of raising the awareness of their plight to the unaffected. Some of her work proved too revealing. Her photos of the Japanese American relocation camps were confiscated by the government; a nation unwilling to expose its racism against its own citizenry. Learning to See is so much more than a biography of a lone woman trying to immortalize the pain and struggles of the broken nation. It breaths life into the stolen moment a photograph shows us. The book makes us ask ourselves - could we better stewards? Do we all need to find our better angels? Can the past revealed in iconic pictures move a nation to heal racism, poverty, mismanagement of our God given resources? In the end, Dorothy wasn't sure. Highly recommended

  28. 4 out of 5

    v

    Thank you @Elise Hooper and @williammorrowbooks for this copy to review! If you had asked me who Dorothea Lange was before I read Learning to See, I would have had no answer for you. And yet, her haunting photograph commonly called "Migrant Mother" is so iconic, I can see it in my mind's eye. Though she started out as a portrait photographer to the wealthy in San Francisco, the Great Depression and lean years that followed led Lange's career in a different direction. As the economic collapse too Thank you @Elise Hooper and @williammorrowbooks for this copy to review! If you had asked me who Dorothea Lange was before I read Learning to See, I would have had no answer for you. And yet, her haunting photograph commonly called "Migrant Mother" is so iconic, I can see it in my mind's eye. Though she started out as a portrait photographer to the wealthy in San Francisco, the Great Depression and lean years that followed led Lange's career in a different direction. As the economic collapse took a toll on America, Lange and her husband, painter Maynard Dixon, found demand for their art drying up. To support her family, Dorothea started photographing the conditions of America's poor, which led to employment with government agencies. The Dust Bowl in the 1930's led to farmers abandoning their Midwest farms and migrating west to work on fruit and vegetable farms. Lange photographed the horrific conditions in the migrant camps. Her photographs at times assisted the migrants in receiving relief from the government to prevent starvation. During WW2, she fought to photograph the appalling conditions suffered by Japanese Americans in internment camps. She spent weeks on the road covering many miles despite being disabled from polio and suffering from ulcers. The author has Dorothea narrate her own life story, bringing this fascinating woman to life in a very sympathetic way. At a time when having a career and a family was an anomaly, Dorothea was determined to have both. Unfortunately, her career came at a high price and forced her to make some very difficult decisions. She saw her love of photography as not just an art form, but a means of activism. Lange's photography defined and recorded a dark period in American history that might otherwise have faded from recollection. After reading this, I found myself visiting the Library of Congress website to view many of her amazing photos. I highly recommend this one! Its written in such an engaging manner, that its hard to put down. Dorothea is flawed and yet so inspiring in her compassion to the plight of the poor and oppressed. I'm so glad this novel brings attention to her work for a new generation.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ethel

    Strong willed, determined and a compassionate woman, that was Dorothea Lange. Arriving in San Francisco with every intention of starting on a world tour, beginning in Hawaii, was not meant to be. Thanks to a pickpocket the money for this trip was stolen and she and her girlfriend were only left with $3.00 to their names. The year was 1918,..they were young and they were resilient. San Francisco became their home. Once settled it doesn't take long for Dorothea to become a celebrated portrait phot Strong willed, determined and a compassionate woman, that was Dorothea Lange. Arriving in San Francisco with every intention of starting on a world tour, beginning in Hawaii, was not meant to be. Thanks to a pickpocket the money for this trip was stolen and she and her girlfriend were only left with $3.00 to their names. The year was 1918,..they were young and they were resilient. San Francisco became their home. Once settled it doesn't take long for Dorothea to become a celebrated portrait photographer. It also doesn't take long for her to be noticed by Maynard Dixon, a well known artist of the Western landscape. But her's was a volatile life, her marriage to Maynard not what she thought it would be. Bearing 2 sons, she was, at times, not the nurturing mother she wanted to be. Successful as a portrait photographer, it was quite by accident that she became interested and involved with taking pictures of "ordinary" people in less than perfect locations. It was during the Great Depression that she found her life's work, defining through her photographs the economic hardship sweeping America in the 1930's. With the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's internment of Japanese Americans, Dorothea becomes involved, through the lens of her camera, as she snaps photograph after photograph of the injustice of an innocent group of people. As one of a group of famous women photographers, she paid a high price for her "celebrity" especially in her private life. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that may be true, as the photos in the back of this novel may prove. Yet this was a stunning portrayal of a woman whose creativity significantly contributed to the history of America with each photo she captured. Ms. Hooper has given us a glimpse of Dorothea Lange, sharing through her writing a captivating image in the written word of a person who gave us our history in pictures.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I come from a long line of amateur photographers, so I’ve long been familiar with the real Dorothea Lange’s work. Reading a fictionalized version of her life, then, was something I was eager to do. Having read and enjoyed author Elise Hooper’s freshman outing, The Other Alcott, I was familiar with her crisp, no-nonsense style, one that makes her extrapolations feel like proper docu-dramas. In this case, I imagined Katharine Hepburn playing the lead character, though I’m not sure why. Possibly be I come from a long line of amateur photographers, so I’ve long been familiar with the real Dorothea Lange’s work. Reading a fictionalized version of her life, then, was something I was eager to do. Having read and enjoyed author Elise Hooper’s freshman outing, The Other Alcott, I was familiar with her crisp, no-nonsense style, one that makes her extrapolations feel like proper docu-dramas. In this case, I imagined Katharine Hepburn playing the lead character, though I’m not sure why. Possibly because Lange is from the time period that lends itself to that ‘trans-Atlantic’ accent. I immediately fell in love with both the historic San Francisco setting, and the character at the heart of the novel, the prickly, feisty, determined Lange herself. Like her, I’m a brunette, and hardly a ‘looker,’ and have had to rely on brains and talent (as we all should, really), so I empathized with her a lot. Immediately I was thankful that she was living in a time when women in trousers was finally acceptable – how much easier to hide that ‘withered right leg’ that way. Of course, it wasn’t just Lange’s struggle to become successful as an artist that intrigued me, but also her perspective on the world. She humanized the American poor, and, equally importantly, turned her lens on our worst selves, documenting the truth of the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. Hooper’s novel shows us this, of course, but she also lets us see Lange’s private self: the young mother struggling to raise two children in the Depression-era economy, and balancing the need to make a living with the innate requirement that she must retain her own sense of integrity, both personal and artistic. This is a novel, not a biography, but it’s a compelling and fascinating read, and where it may err in facts, it resounds with truth. Goes well with bacon, eggs, pancakes, and a steaming mug of black coffee.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.