Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Bohemians


The Bohemians is a fictionalized historical semi-biography of Dorothea Lange written by Jasmin Darznik. Released 6th April 2021 by Penguin Random House on their Ballantine imprint, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a beautifully written and moving account of the first years of Lange's life in California and her early career from 1918-1920 (and a little after). The prose is lyrical and evocative and so skillfully woven into the real historical facts that it's often difficult to figure out where reality shades over into fiction.  

Although it's historical fiction, written with scenery, prices, and dialogue true to the time period, there are also many issues and experiences relevant to today which could have been taken directly from the news headlines, including anti-immigrant prejudice, misogyny, poverty, and a pandemic! The book is also full of fun cultural references and artists to read up on and look up. I got almost as much enjoyment from playing the reference hunting game as I did reading the actual narrative.

Four and a half stars. Definitely worth a look, especially for fans of historical fiction. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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