The novel tells the story of eight female photographers, in eight different chapter/stories, inspired by the lives of real photographers. In her Author’s Note, Otto leaves the list incomplete, but she includes Imogen Cunningham, Madame Yevonde, Tina Modotti, Lee Miller, Grete Stern, and Ruth Orkin. Each chapter is introduced by a playing-card-sized photo by the spotlighted artist, and the photograph’s true title, meant to evoke a little “ooh” moment when readers get to the scene where the picture is snapped. But the photographers-as-characters are given fictional names; Lee Miller is Ellen “Lenny” Van Pelt, Imogen Cunningham is Cymbeline Kelley, Man Ray makes a cameo as someone called Tin Type, although Hannah Hoch and Diane Arbus, who are only mentioned by the characters, are allowed their real names.
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