[I'm not returning this book to the library yet, so it's feasible I'll go back and read the first three chapters and the chunks I skipped.]
Let's start with a quotation from the author's note:
As I carefully tried to reconstruct Maier's scattered archive, my goal was always to recognize and give Maier agency within her own story. Here, as in my previous work, I sought to locate and reveal "hidden truths," in the process showing how changing stories and masked intentions can obscure history. In an age where truthfulness seems increasingly under attack, this objective seems all the more critical to me.
Essentially, since her discovery and death (which happened in that order, although almost simultaneously) this deliberately private woman has had her work, life, and legacy explained by a bunch of men with sufficient free time and funds to recreate her as a cultural phenomenon. Which she deserves, but this book took the time to really try to see her. The level of detectiving that went into this is impressive. THIS is the real first draft of history. (My complaints about the movie, which I liked, were valid and in fact not complainy enough. My enjoyment of the book holds steady.)
If you have any interest in Maier or her work, this is the right book to read. The story's gotten much more full, rich, and complicated since last you checked in on it.