An Artificial Light (The Photographer’s Saga)

Written by Petra Durst-Benning
Review by B. J. Sedlock

This is the sequel to The Photographer, continuing Mimi Reventlow’s story as a photographer in 1911 Laichingen, Germany. Mimi is on cloud nine, having successfully sold her postcards at the Pentecost market, and renewing her acquaintance with union organizer Hannes, or Johann as he asks her to call him now. Linen-weaving mill owner Gehringer is feeling the pinch with workers who slack off, customers who demand lower prices, and Mimi’s reluctance to sell him her studio. Eveline, a dirt-poor weaver’s wife, has a son Alex with artistic talent, and Mimi uses her connections to get Alex an audition for an art school scholarship. But Mimi doesn’t know that Eveline and Johann had a past together and Eveline is still in love with him. A series of accidents and a suicide set off a chain of events that untangle some problems and further tangle others for Mimi. As with the first volume, it ends on a cliffhanger.

Once again, multiple rounded characters kept my interest, though I would recommend reading the first volume before this one. There’s an additional subplot with Anton, the innkeeper’s son, wanting to escape Laichingen with his sweetheart Christel that contributes to the cliffhanger. Mimi’s struggles to be accepted as an outsider in the provincial town and as a female photographer in the 1910s are compelling. The depiction of life in a part of rural Germany I know nothing about was interesting. Mimi is a believable, independent woman in an era when that was difficult to achieve. I highly recommend this series. Durst-Benning left me wanting more.