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Posted May 1, 2009
First in Portrait of a Women series couldn't be any better
A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick in the first in the historical fiction series A Portrait of a Woman. Kirkpatrick has fictionalized the story of her grandmother Jessie Gaeble who worked as a photographer's assistant in 1907 Winona, Minnesota for F.J. Bauer. Jessie is a feisty, tiny girl of fifteen when she starts working at Bauer's studio with her own ideas about how photographs should be taken. Bauer takes her under his wing and teaches her how to pose photos, develop them, and run a studio, which is necessary when he succumbs to occasional mercury poisoning leaving him unable to run the business for months on end. Bauer has a less than perfect marriage, and the two are drawn together by their common love of their craft. Kirkpatrick has an unusual talent for creating incredibly real characters. It's the rare book that is so great that its characters find their way into my dreams. For me, that's an indicator of a book that is far above the masses of similar books in the genre. I am completely pulled into the story, and when the final page is turned, find myself missing the characters inside. Thank goodness this is a series! Kirkpatrick captures turn of the century life in a small Midwestern town and fills it with characters the reader can't help but take to heart.
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Posted February 28, 2009
a terrific "biographical fiction
In 1907 in Winona, fifteen year old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves to take pictures of in Minnesota's beautiful landscapes. Neither her family nor her peers understand the teenage girl's obsession with photography. No one except that is professional photographer F.J. Bauer who feels an affinity with the young girl as he loves picture taking too. He hires her as his apprentice.
Jessie Ann proves adept at all the workings involving photography including the use of dangerous toxic chemicals in the backroom and the flash powder used as lighting. However, she feels out of her league as a woman and loaded with guilt when she falls in love with her married mentor as she knows his somewhat difficult wife Jessie is not a bad person. Although he knows not to act on his wants, Bauer finds himself increasingly desiring his apprentice especially her unabated enthusiasm for what he cherishes too, photography.
Reaching back to her family tree, historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific "biographical fiction" of her grandmother as a teen at the turn of the previous century breaking the gender barrier. The key to this super tale is that the prime three players based on real persona are not over the top nasty people; instead the audience will empathize with each. Readers will also obtain a deep look at the danger of photography in the first decade of the twentieth century and cannot help compare it with "danger" of the digital age; as exposure has different connotations. Ms. Kirkpatrick provides a profound look at an era when women were given limited options yet Jessie Ann refuses to allow societal restraints from preventing her from being what she wanted to be and open-minded Bauer encourages her.
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Posted August 26, 2012
Posted June 29, 2009
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