Sunday, June 30

Book Review: Eight Girls Taking Pictures

Title: Eight Girls Taking Pictures

Author: Whitney Otto

Pages: 335

Summary: This captivating novel opens in 1917 as Cymbeline Kelley surveys the charred remains of her photography studio, destroyed in a fire started by a woman hired to help take care of the house while Cymbeline pursued her photography career. This tension— between wanting and needing to be two places at once; between domestic duty and ambition; between public and private life; between what’s seen and what’s hidden from view—echoes in the stories of the other seven women in the book. Among them: Amadora Allesbury, who creates a world of color and whimsy in an attempt to recapture the joy lost to WWI; Clara Argento, who finds her voice working alongside socialist revolutionaries in Mexico; Lenny Van Pelt, a gorgeous model who feels more comfortable photographing the deserted towns of the French countryside after WWII than she does at a couture fashion shoot; and Miri Marx, who has travelled the world taking pictures, but also loves her quiet life as a wife and mother in her New York apartment. Crisscrossing the world and a century, Eight Girls Taking Pictures is an affecting meditation on the conflicts women face and the choices they make. These memorable characters seek extraordinary lives through their work, yet they also find meaning and reward in the ordinary tasks of motherhood, marriage, and domesticity. Most of all, this novel is a vivid portrait of women in love—in love with men, other women, children, their careers, beauty, and freedom.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were aspects of the book I enjoyed, but for the most part I found myself to be disconnected from this book and hard to concentrate on it. I also felt that it didn't come together well for a "novel" and it only mildly worked as a collection of connected stories.

One thing that I think put me off the book was I wasn't sure how to classify it. It's seems to be considered a novel, but it is presented and reads like a collection of interconnected short stories, but even then that didn't always work. So I was constantly at a bit of a conflict when reading the book. With that being said, each section, chapter, story, or however you look at, as an individual was well done. The author did a great job at creating some well developed and fleshed out characters. While each section was rather short, they all read like a full story was created and having such a short time with each woman, I always felt that there story was told in full and I appreciated that aspect of the book.

Unfortunately, I never got into the book. While there were some interesting bits in the story, it highlighted a lot of social and political issues of the time, and had well fleshed out characters, I just couldn't get into the book like I wanted.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, while I didn't love the book I think it has a lot of qualities that would appeal to other readers.

What to read next: I'm at a complete loss on this one.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, New Author Challenge


  1. I never felt as though I fell into this story either, but I have recommended it to readers I thought would enjoy it more than I did. There are lots of individual elements in it that I liked, and I really do love the idea of the book as a whole, with its emphasis on artistry across the years.

  2. Exactly! I also found a lot of individual elements that I liked and where interesting, but it just didn't come together.