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Summary

A dazzling novel of one of America’s most celebrated photographers, Dorothea Lange, exploring the wild years in San Francisco that awakened her career-defining grit, compassion, and daring.

“Jasmin Darznik expertly delivers an intriguing glimpse into the woman behind those unforgettable photographs of the Great Depression, and their impact on humanity.” (Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things)

In this novel of the glittering and gritty Jazz Age, a young aspiring photographer named Dorothea Lange arrives in San Francisco in 1918. As a newcomer - and naïve one at that - Dorothea is grateful for the fast friendship of Caroline Lee, a vivacious, straight-talking Chinese American with a complicated past, who introduces Dorothea to Monkey Block, an artists’ colony and the bohemian heart of the city. Dazzled by Caroline and her friends, Dorothea is catapulted into a heady new world of freedom, art, and politics. She also finds herself falling in love with the brilliant but troubled painter Maynard Dixon. As Dorothea sheds her innocence, her purpose is awakened and she grows into the artist whose iconic Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph broke the hearts and opened the eyes of a nation.

A vivid and absorbing portrait of the past, The Bohemians captures a cast of unforgettable characters, including Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, and D. H. Lawrence. But moreover, it shows how the gift of friendship and the possibility of self-invention persist against the ferocious pull of history.

©2021 Jasmin Darznik (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“If you loved Song of a Captive Bird like I did, you will want to read the latest creative historical biography by Jasmin Darznik. Featuring the photographer Dorothea Lange in 1920s San Francisco, Darznik paints an illuminative portrait of the photographer and the woman.” (Ms. Magazine)

“Lange’s story begins when she arrives in 1918 San Francisco...spinning into an all-too relevant tale of a woman dealing with a pandemic, rising anti-immigration sentiment, and a tumultuous political climate.” (PopSugar) 

“In her riveting and resonant new novel, Jasmin Darznik captures San Francisco’s heyday through the eyes of one of its most iconic residents. By exploring how Dorothea Lange witnessed her troubled and momentous times, Darznik speaks directly to our own.” (Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

What listeners say about The Bohemians

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Profile Image for Claudio Salusso
  • Claudio Salusso
  • 01-10-21

Fascinating time, people and place

All put together in a story that feels kind of frivolous. I continually wished I was reading biography instead of historical fiction. These people must have been more interesting than their portrayal in The Bohemians.

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Profile Image for Richard
  • Richard
  • 17-06-21

Pleasure to read

Very well done insights into an era, a culture, social issues of racism, all in addition to the story of a wonderful photographer. If your interests include San Francisco or photography, this is a must read. For everyone else it’s just a delight

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lynn Hall
  • 09-05-21

Excellent

This is my 1st book for May...looking forward to it! 4⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Update: while I knew a little of the photographs of Dorothea Lange...this book brings them to life with a velocity of vision! The collective relationship between the artists of early 1900’s SanFransisco and their shared creativity exploded with the expansion of women in the community...the one thing that is expressed throughout the book is the concept of: if we don’t learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it!!!

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  • Leslie Vornholt
  • 27-06-22

Intriguing history of San Francisco

Very intriguing look at the historical roots of San Francisco
At times heartbreaking, other times uplifting, mostly a credit to the human spirit to overcome life’s challenges
Many parallels to current day events. A great listen!

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  • Jill Justman
  • 15-06-22

Absolutely beautiful!

Wonderful story and terrific narration! Would highly recommend - especially to those who enjoy historical fiction.

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  • Cherri Giovannini
  • 01-04-22

Wonderful!

One of the best books I have read I a long time! Loved all the San Francisco history!

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  • Christina t
  • 04-03-22

If you love San Francisco, a must read!

The Bohemian’s, is based on a true story. Set in San Francisco, after the 1906 earthquake had devastated “The City”, as it is truly called by Northern Californians. Moore delves into the atrocities committed against the Chinese people in San Francisco. The characters in the story are all real people, who fought, and/or lived through them. I’m not easily drawn into novels as I was with this one. Brazo Dylan Moore!

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  • RueRue
  • 28-02-22

How to write historical fiction

The author got it right. This is such a good story based on real-life people and captures how the city of San Francisco must have been circa 1918 -1920. Good historical fiction should make the reader/listener look for more information about the real life characters, and this book certainly does that. Excellent narration makes it even more compelling.

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  • Lowroad
  • 26-02-22

perfect historial novel

I enjoyed learning about San Francisco and some of its history, The (historical) characters are wrapped up in a good story, like a good historical novel should.

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Profile Image for Linda Barnes
  • Linda Barnes
  • 21-02-22

Loved this story

This was such a well told story of perseverance, friendship, loyalty and historical facts. I am now off to read the biography, Dorothea Lange A Life Beyond Limits to learn more about her and her life.