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Learning to See

A Novel of Dorothea Lange, the Woman Who Revealed the Real America
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

“Written with grace, empathy, and bright imagination, Learning to See gives us the vivid interior life of a remarkably resilient woman. Dorothea Lange’s story is about passion and art, love and family, but also about the sacrifices women make—and have always made—to illuminate the truth of the world.” (Danya Kukafka, national bestselling author of Girl in Snow)

Learning to See is a gripping account of the Dorothea Lange, the woman behind the camera who risked everything for art, activism, and love.

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…

©2019 Elise Hooper (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • KP
  • 12-05-20

Fascinating Look at a Famous Figure

Learning about Dorothea Lange’s life, both personal and professional, was fascinating. Although I’m not a complete fan of fictionalized biographies like this, I will say this one was a compelling read and gave me a new appreciation for her photos. Dorothea’s life did have enough drama and conflict to make it into a good novel. As others have mentioned, the main problem with a book like this is that one doesn’t know where the fiction leaves off and the facts begin. I’ll assume that research conducted by the author makes the majority of the story basically truthful, and I’m happy with that. One controversial thing about Lange is how she seemed to put her art above her children. I don’t like that about her, but it didn’t make me not like the book, as some reviewers claim. In fact, it’s issues like this in her life that make the book interesting. The book was written in the first person, which gives the reader a chance to really feel how difficult it was for Lange to make the choices she did about her children. At least she did become a great and famous artist! In the book, The Dutch House, the mother also abandons her children, but we never get inside her head to understand why and so the reasons seem superficial and selfish. Learning to See is written in the first person, so the reader really can feel how painful the decision is for Dorothea to leave her children behind. The title, “Learning to See”, refers to her growth both personally and professionally as she learns what is important in life and what to leave behind. It’s a book about learning and the transformations that come with it.

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  • Melissa G.
  • 09-01-20

Fictionalized with photos included!

I loved reading this ebook! I could easily imagine Dorothea taking the photos and then to find them at the end of the kindle edition, well that was the cherry on top!

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  • Tina Bolling
  • 23-09-19

This audio book was perfect for me

Because I'm a professional photographer who started her career 30 years ago as photo journalist for newspapers, working in many dark rooms making my own black&white prints, and later opening my own portrait studio, this book was perfect for me. I'm also a huge fan of Cassandra Campbell, so there was no question that I wouldn't listen to this book. And I was not disappointed, it was an interesting and relatable story for me. I'd always admired Dorothea Lange's work, but didn't know anything about her personal history. She was ahead of her time in many ways. Back then, and still, it was difficult for women to choose their career before family. She did that and paid the price, but also followed her passion and honest desires. After reading this personable novel I admire Dorothea Lange even more and will look for more books by Elise Hooper.

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  • Customer K
  • 17-04-19

More Than Photography

Interesting and informative novel about the first half of the 20th century in the United States.