Eight Girls Taking Pictures (Paperback)
November 2012 Indie Next List
“Otto is masterful in telling the stories of eight women photographers -- their creative lives, their struggles balancing family and work, their politics (sexual and otherwise), and their place within the art community and the world events of the 20th century. All are skillfully presented and intricately woven together to create an unforgettable novel. Yes, it is fiction, but Otto has drawn from the real lives of gifted, renowned photographers, and the stories behind the images, whether real or imagined are compelling, inspiring and very entertaining. What a feast of a novel!”
— Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
"A moving read about the pleasures and pangs that define the lives of women" (USA TODAY) from the bestselling author of How to Make an American Quilt. A profoundly moving portrayal of the lives of women, imagining the thoughts and events that produced eight famous female photographers of the twentieth century. Inspired by the work of Imogen Cunningham, Madame Yevonde, Tina Modotti, Grete Stern, Lee Miller, Ruth Orkin, and others, author Whitney Otto weaves together eight stories, crisscrossing the world and a century to portray the tensions that defined the lives of female artists. These memorable characters seek the extraordinary through their art, yet also find meaning and reward in the ordinary tasks of motherhood, marriage, and domesticity. This is a bold, immersive, and unforgettable novel about women in love.
"Thoughtful, nuanced depictions of the complexity of women's lives...Eight Girls is a moving read about the pleasures and pangs that define the lives of women."
"A rich ensemble novel...full of glamour and grit."
" Otto’s photographers battle society’s denunciations and personal demons as they seek love, acceptance, success, and harmony. A visionary and distinctive look at the sacrifices and triumphs of daring women artists."
“Otto skillfully develops each character and draws the reader in with rich detail that must be the result of careful and extensive research. Highly recommended; those with an interest in photography, women’s history, or feminist literature should particularly enjoy.”
"Blending Otto's saturated yet accessible prose with her talent for stitching together stories of multiple characters with a steady, glittering needle, the novel pays homage to a number of 20th-century photographers whose lives inspired its eight interwoven tales. Otto's vivid narratives of these women's lives-often bohemian, occasionally luxurious, always richly intellectual and full of love-render them as complete, complicated mediums between their cameras and a world that treats them so ambivalently."
"The reader is captivated and transported on several levels with a book that rings with universal truths as it pays homage to eight very real ground-breaking photographers. You don’t have to be an art historian nor even like photography to love this deeply soul satisfying work. Each work is a gem to be savored and appreciated like a fine work of visual art."
“A lovely work of fiction…Otto mixes the personal histories of her subjects with their camera-eye view of the world to create an intriguing narrative.”
“A tour de force. This exquisitely written novel-as-linked-stories is an impressive ode to feminism. Spanning several decades and various romantic settings…Otto’s novel highlights the challenges these women face as they attempt to balance career with family life. Like a master portraitist, Otto focuses on the details, describing studio settings as if she were staging a photograph herself.”
"A fascinating portrait of 20th century women exploring and establishing their artistic vision. Writing with vivid details and finely-tuned sensibility...Otto's ability to capture and corral [these women's] lives... is laudable for shedding light on this sisterhood of pioneering artists.”
"Otto is certainly [a] mistress of her craft."