March 31, 2010

Book Review - An Absence So Great

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


Inspired by the engaging stories told through her grandmother’s photographs taken at the turn of the century, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick provides a portrait of the tension between darkness and light in the soul of a young woman pursuing her professional dreams.

Despite growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is still at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing on her dream to one day own her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep those painful memories from seeping into her heart, and the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

My Thoughts:
The story of a single young woman struggling to prove to herself that she can accomplish what is not acceptable in 1910.  Jessie has moved from Minnesota to help out a couple that owns a photography studio.  They have mercury poisoning and are not able to see to the studio.  She struggles with the problems of proving to herself that she can be a photographer in a "man's world" and own her own studio one day.  Set in 1910, the struggles are so majestically written that you feel as if you are also going through these same emotional woes of a young woman.  A forbidden love comes back around and causes much distress in her mind and life.  The emotional struggles felt by Jessie and the other characters in the book are portrayed in a way that you truly feel the pain of what it must've been like in those days.

Kirkpatrick has based this story on her grandmother.  She does a great job with research by interviewing her grandmother and recalling those great memories.  She also documents actual photographs that were taken by her grandmother in the book.  Looking at these old photos and feeling that you are seeing into the life and souls of these people is very intriguing.

I did not realize that there was a book before this one in a series.  I do believe I could have followed along a little better if I would have read the first book and known a little more background.  All in all, I do believe this story can still stand on its own and I would recommend reading this book.

Author Bio:

Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning author of sixteen historical novels, including A Flickering Light, the first part of Jessie Gaebale’s story, and three nonfiction titles. Known for her unique insights into the exploration of community, family and faith of actual historical women, the Wisconsin native and her husband have called their ranch in Oregon home for the past 25 years.


I have one book (courtesy of to give away to one lucky reader of my blog. Please leave me a comment and I will do a random draw for this wonderful book!! Can't wait to see who wins!


samantha said...

This sounds like a winner!! I love that she is from Oregon. HEHE

Loren said...

Great review :) You are doing awesome Tamara! Like last time though I have enough to read :) Thanks for sharing your review!

p.s. that is one thing I have definately started looking for when requesting a it the first one? if not, I pass unless I think I just gotta read it ;)

Love ya