Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Waiting For Robert Capa by Susana Fortes
208 pages
Published September 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Gerta Pohorylle and AndrĂ© Friedmann and are young Jewish refugees who arrive in Paris in 1935. Caught up in the scene that is Paris on the cusp of World War II,  the two were first friends, then business partners and finally lovers. Friedmann taught Pohorylle the art of photography and she, in turn, remade him into Robert Capa, launching his career, and remade herself into Gerda Taro. She became one of the first female combat photographers and he became internationally known for his photograph, The Fallen Soldier. taken early during the Spanish Civil War.

Capa and Taro found themselves caught up in political movements in Paris as much because of what they stood against as because of what they stood for - they were both fiercely opposed to Facism. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, it was only logical that the pair would find themselves drawn to the country, throwing themselves as close to danger as was possible.

 In her author notes, Fortes who is Spanish, stated that she's been drawn to the work of Capa for years. It was in 2008, when 127 undeveloped rolls of film that Capa, Taro, and their friend David Seymour had taken during the war, that Fortes decided it was time to write the story. Interestingly, I found the book to be much more Gerda's story.

Waiting For Robert Capa struggles to find it's voice. Sometimes, it's almost overly poetic as Fortes writes about the environment of Paris. Other times it reads much more as if it were a work of non-fiction, detailing movements in battles and dropping names of other well-known participants in the Paris and/or Spanish settings. For me, I far preferred when Fortes cut back on the descriptiveness and got to the meat of the story. It's a story I've been interested in for a couple of years and it felt as if Fortes and written fully-developed characters who may very well be much like the people on which they are based. I find myself even more interested in this pair whose relationship seems as if it truly were one with origins in the pages of a novel.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this one. For more opinions, please see the full list of reviews.


  1. I am not sure how I would feel about this book, as I tend to avoid books with overly poetic writing. It sort of gets on my nerves a bit. I might have been tempted to want to get to "the meat of the story" as you describe it as well. I did love looking at the photos that you provided, and think that the underlying premise of the book sounded sort of interesting. I am glad that you mostly liked this one!

  2. After reading Lotus Eater I've found myself interested in the lives of war photographers. I've never heard of these two people but your review has me intrigued about their experience. I think it's cool that undeveloped film was found so many years later!

  3. I hope you are able to find more books about this couple now that your interest has been heightened!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  4. Is it not interesting that these two famous talented lover's within their time, be reduced to obscurity. Perhaps, their lives will be explored again, with a book and a movie. They deserve no less.

  5. One of my favourite novels in a long long time. Off to find it in Spanish too.

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