From the Publisher:
While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is 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 owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.
Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.
An Absence So Great is the second novel in Jane Kirkpatrick’s Portrait of a Heart series, the first novel being A Flickering Light. It was not until I had finished the novel and read the author’s notes that I discovered this series is based on her grandmother’s life. An Absence So Great is a beautifully written novel, which takes place in 1910 Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jessie Gaebele, an unmarried 18-year old has left her hometown of Winona, Minnesota to work as a photographer in the Johnson Studio, while boarding with the delightful Harms family. Jessie is an adventurous woman, especially for the time period, and has set in her mind three conditions that must be met before she will travel home. First she must have enough money saved to buy her own studio in Winona, second, she must prove to herself she can make wiser decisions and third she must be able to tell herself the truth about her feelings for Fred Bauer. Jane Kirkpatrick writes a beautiful historical novel with a strong main character and so many delightful characters that come in and out of Jessie’s life. One of my favourite parts was when a new section would begin with a photograph and a description of the photograph, the time, the place, the emotions, and one was transported back to the world in which Jessie lived. An Absence So Great is a beautiful novel of learning, finding out what is important in one’s life, being true to oneself, love, loss, and family. An Absence So Great makes for a delightful evening of reading and would be a brilliant selection for a discussion group.
About the Author:
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 received a complimentary copy of An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.