An Absence So Great: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Did photography replace an absence in her life or expose the truth of her heart’s emptiness?
 
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 ...
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An Absence So Great: A Novel

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Overview

Did photography replace an absence in her life or expose the truth of her heart’s emptiness?
 
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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307459275
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/16/2010
  • Series: Portraits of the Heart
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 467,775
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning, best-selling author of sixteen historical novels, and three nonfiction titles,
including A Flickering Light, the first part of Jessie Gaebele’s story and one of Library Journal's Best of 2009. 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 twenty-five years.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

One
Setting Things Right
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, four months earlier
 
JESSIE GAEBELE’S THOUGHTS AT TIMES behaved like a toddler’s: one moment they stayed safely hidden in the pump organ’s shadow, and the next minute they popped up to pull out all the stops, increasing in volume, shouting in her head, underscoring the aching loneliness that defined her days.
 
Today, as she stood in this men’s refuge permeated by the scent of oil and grease and gasoline, she flicked away those toddler voices. She had good reasons to be here. She was eighteen years old, it was 1910, and young women alone were going places they’d never gone before. She didn’t need to be embarrassed or afraid. Why had she come to Milwaukee if not to prove to herself and others that she could make wise choices and pursue a dream? One day she’d have her own photographic studio back in Winona, Minnesota, where her family lived. Her future beckoned, but she would return only when she’d proven to herself that she was in control of her heart.
 
“It might be best if you had your father look at it, Fräulein,” the proprietor cautioned.
 
“I’m not purchasing it for my father,” Jessie told him, a man her father’s age she guessed.
 
“Ach, I’m sorry. You look so young. Your husband then.”
 
Jessie took a deep breath. “It’s for my own use.”
 
The proprietor’s eyes widened. “Ah, well, do you have”—he looked over her small frame—“the stamina to make such a purchase? Riding an Emblem’s not like riding a bicycle or a horse, if you know what I mean.”
 
She didn’t know how to ride an Emblem or a Pierce or any other kind of motorcycle. She didn’t know where she’d learn or practice, or where she’d keep it once she figured out a way to afford the gas. But it was the perfect accoutrement, so much more distinctive than a certain kind of hat or a new pair of shoes. Jessie needed inspiration with fall closing in on her, the days soon shortening into long, lonely nights. Winter always made her dreary, and this first one away from her family promised to weigh her down like the pile of wool quilts on the bed that she no longer shared with her sisters.
 
“I’m a photographer,” Jessie told him, “and stronger than I look. I have my own income too. I assure you that I can afford to buy it.” This wasn’t quite the truth, but close. She planned to pay small portions each month. She’d read that some businesses did that now, calling it credit, from a Latin word meaning “to believe.” The proprietor had to believe she would make the payment.
 
“Take a closer look then, Fräulein,” the man told her, moving aside so she could step closer.
Don’t do it. Don’t do it.
 
She was here in this motorcycle shop because she’d seen the Milwaukee Journal photographer, Robert Taylor, making good use of such transportation. Unlike the Winona newspaper, the Journal printed photographs not just of disasters like the fire at the flour mill but of everyday things: people picnicking, ships easing along the Milwaukee River, the country’s first kindergarten class. Studio shots they weren’t. Nor were they tramp photographs, as Fred referred to photographs taken outside of the staged, controlled setting of a proper studio. To Jessie, spontaneous photographs of everyday life demonstrated the vibrancy of a people and a place. It was the kind of photography Jessie preferred, a view of the world through a commonplace lens, reminding her that ordinary ways were worthy of remembering.
 
As a photographer, one needed to be distinctive, and that certainly made Robert Taylor so: his motorcycle, and the blue and white polka-dot cravat he always wore. A photograph of him had brought her to this place. Art did move people, Jessie thought wryly.
 
This purchase would allow her to get out into the countryside, where the fields and trees and streams of this southern Wisconsin landscape would fill the void she’d brought with her. Would Fred approve? She shook her head. Forgetting Fred was another reason she’d come to Milwaukee.
 
Fred. She would not give up control of her feelings to imagine a life that could never be. She’d buy this motorcycle and create new memories.
 
Don’t do it!
 
“It’s a good price, Fräulein. And I’d wager there’s a young man who would be more than willing to train a student such as you how to use it.” He grinned. “I’m assuming here that you don’t know how to ride one.”
 
“You’ve assumed correctly,” Jessie told him. She moved the camera case to her other hand as she ran her gloved hand across the Emblem’s shiny surface. “But that’s a temporary state.”
 
Two hundred dollars was a lot of money, and she’d committed herself to saving all she could so she could one day purchase her own studio instead of always working for someone else. Still, with a motorcycle she could leave the city on weekends, get away from the often overbearing kindnesses of her boarding family, the Harmses.
 
The proprietor cleared his throat in what sounded like impatience.
 
If she spent money on a motorcycle, she’d have to settle any guilty feelings over not sending more home to her family and accept that a little joy in her life didn’t mean she was being lax. The machine would be an investment; that’s how she’d think of it. It would make her focus on her work with greater effort. Wasn’t that the truth?
 
“I’ve heard of females riding bicycles. Seen a few around the city too. But a woman on a motorcycle? That would be a first in my experience. And I’m a man of experience, if you know what I mean.” He winked.
 
Jessie didn’t, but being the first female to ride a motorcycle around Milwaukee did not appeal; an innovative way to make money did. Yes, the motorcycle would allow her that. The newspaper would buy her prints. She didn’t know for certain that was the case, and she was trying to be honest with herself these days. At times that balance between what was and what could be felt precarious indeed. That, too, was part of her reason for being in Milwaukee, to practice being forthright. The newspaper might only want Robert Taylor’s work. But there were dozens of other newspapers from outlying towns she could approach.
 
Don’t do it!
 
If she could sell her prints, she could contribute to the Harms household, if they’d accept her money.
 
“You’re thinking the price isn’t fair, Fräulein? I can tell you that even Schwinn’s motorcycle is that price, and it isn’t half as sturdy as the Emblem. Or are you just using that pretty head of yours to calculate?” He grinned, then added, “Maybe you like my company on this Saturday afternoon.”
 
“I’m sure it’s a fair price.” Jessie stroked the blue gas tank on the side with the Emblem label painted in black. Her fingers lingered over the smooth leather of the seat. She set the bag holding the 3A Graflex on the box above the front fender to see if the rectangular
camera bag fit in front of the handlebars. It did.
 
Her eyes stopped at the chains and tires. She’d worked for a bicycle shop owner in Winona, cleaning and sorting bicycle parts, so she knew there’d be more than just the cost of the machine to worry about. There’d be expense to keeping it up too. Was her talent enough to pay for all this?
 
But, oh, how she’d love the independence! It would help fill up the hours of doubt that marked her arrival in Milwaukee. Who was Jessie Gaebele if she wasn’t Lilly and Selma and Roy’s sister, her parents’ child, the apple of her grandparents’ and uncle’s eyes? Who was she if she wasn’t Fred’s…what? Student? Employee? Past paramour?
 
Paramour. She’d read a story employing that word in Woman’s Home Companion. She and Fred hadn’t been lovers, but she had been the “other woman,” a weight as heavy as her camera case. Who was Jessie Gaebele when she was separated from those who had defined her? Her mouth felt dry.
 
“Wind rushes across your face and you feel like you’re flying on one of these babies, if you know what I mean,” the proprietor said. “You will feel as though you are in love.”
 
“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great.” A French writer had written that. She hadn’t meant to say it out loud.
 
“Ah, love,” he said and eased closer to her, and as he did, he shifted the wad of tobacco that pouched out his lower lip. He turned his head, and Jessie decided he’d moved to reach the spittoon sitting on a nearby bench. She wrinkled her nose, turned back to the Emblem.
 
“Men who ride these are in love with their machines,” he said. He scratched at his arms, large, with muscles thick and twisted like old lilac trunks. “I can tell now that you’ve a good head on your shoulders…seeing as how you’re taking such time to weigh the merits
of this machine and know it’ll take you to exceptional places.” He moved closer to Jessie. “Maybe a pretty young thing like you just needs extra reassurance about such a big purchase.”
 
“I know I wish to buy it, but I need to discuss whether you would allow me to purchase it on…credit. I’d give you a portion of the price now and then a sum each week.”
 
“You want me to trust you? I’d need a substantial deposit for that.”
 
He was beside her now, ignorant of the proper space between a gentleman and a lady. She could smell the day’s sweat on his striped shirt, and she stepped sideways, putting distance between them but still steadying her camera perched on the machine.
 
“I’d have to be certain of your good intentions.” His voice sounded lower now, his gaze moving like a slow flame up from her size three shoes to the glasses on her face. He stared into her eyes. She felt her face grow hot. “You give me something and I’ll give you something, if you know what I mean.” He nodded toward a door near the back. “Let’s take this negotiation into my office.”
 
Don’t do it!
 
Jessie’s hands felt damp inside her gloves, and she was alerted for the first time to the danger she was in.
 
“Come along, Fräulein,” he said. He lifted her chin with his oilstained fingers. “It’s perfectly safe. You need a man of my experience is all, precious little thing like you, to teach you about business ways. Credit indeed.” He grinned.
 
She stumbled back from him, one hand still clinging awkwardly to her camera. There was no one else in the shop; it was situated in a district with other industries frequented by men but few women. It was late on a Saturday afternoon. No one would hear her cry of distress even if she shouted. Her heart pounded. She never should have come in here, a woman alone.
 
“I’ll give you a special deal on the machine, if you know what I mean,” he persisted.
 
You know what he means.
 
She finally heard the words inside her head, the ones meant to keep her safe. “I’ve made up my mind,” Jessie said, hoping she wouldn’t give him reason to persist so she could make as dignified an escape as her leaden feet would allow.
 
But he reached for her then, squeezed his wide paws at her cheeks. He lowered his face toward hers. Dark tobacco juice glistened in the corner of his mouth. He pushed her against the Emblem.
 
Get out! Get out!
 
How could she be so foolish! Jessie hefted the only weapon she had and struck him with her camera case, the force of it twisting her and the case to the ground. Only then did she consider what she’d destroyed and just how long it would take to earn her way back home.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    good story

    Jessie Ann Gaebele is in love. With photography, and with an older married man who trained her in photography. Distressed and dismayed by the turn of events that have brought her into a position of falling in love with a married man, Jessie tries to escape her desires by chasing other desires, such as the desire to make a name for herself as a woman photographer, the desire to own her own studio and to do it all on her own. She desperately does not want to love Fredrick J. Bauer.
    Jessie, leaves Winona Wisconsin and travel to many cities and states working as an assistant, where she learns more and more about her trade, where she saves money to fulfill her goals and where she desperately misses her family back home in Winona.
    This story is a novel, but the central characters Jessie, her family and Fredrick J. Bauer and his family are real people, in fact Jessie is the grandmother of the author Jane Kirkpatrick. This story was moving, and was a story that will present a moral dilemna. Jessie knew it was wrong to love a married man, and that is addressed in the book. A story you must read to appreciate. Do not fail to read the interview at the end of the book with the author, it explains so much about the book that you really wonder about as you read it. 383 pages US $14.99 4 stars.

    This book was provided for review purposes only no payment was received.

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  • Posted December 7, 2010

    A Great Read!

    Eighteen year-old Jessie Gaebele is making her way in a world obsessed with rigid propriety. Even at her young age, she's made mistakes, has committed acts for which she must atone. Although she longs for her family, she remains miles away, working in her life's vocation, photography.

    The story weaves the lives of Jessie Gaebele and the married Fred Bauer, a former employer and the person responsible for her self-imposed exile. Jessie strives to overcome the obstacles of a woman achieving a business of her own in a man's profession, all the while fighting the demon of forbidden love and an all-consuming longing for what can never be.

    Jane Kirkpatrick breathes life into her characters, guiding the reader into another world, another time. In An Absence So Great and its prequel, A Flickering Light, Kirkpatrick draws on her own ancestry, skillfully blending actual details with creative situations resulting in a unique perspective of time and place.

    Throughout the book, Kirkpatrick features actual historical photographs with vivid descriptions of the subjects and minute details of the photography process. These actual images bring even more awareness of early 19th century America.

    I very much enjoyed yet another Jane Kirkpatrick novel. Her writing embodies the human spirit, its weaknesses, its power to overcome and its conquering faith. She is a superb storyteller.

    Mary E. Trimble, author of Tenderfoot

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A bit disappointing.

    The story was interesting in that it was about the author's Grandmother, a women photograper in 1910 determined to make it on her own and it also dealt with the heartache of divorce, which was very uncommon at that time. However, Jessie and Fred's conflicting emotions and Jessie's lack of a social life became tiring at times. Both Jessie and Fred lacked spark. The first book of the series, A Flickering Light, was by far the better of the two books.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    An Absence So Great

    Jane Kirkpatrick's latest novel entitled An Absence so Great was not as great as I hoped it would be. It's historical elements are quite interesting and it's loosely based on Jane Kirkpatrick's grandmother which is a major plus. However, I tend to read books to escape and find adventure, but that didn't happen with this book. Although Kirkpatrick has many fans and is an award winning author, her writing style did not captivate me.

    The one thing that I loved about the book was at the end. Kirkpatrick has a Q & A of sorts and it was very interesting to read how she came up with the book idea and what was true and what wasn't about the storyline. I wish more authors would do something along those lines as it helped me identify with the author more.

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

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  • Posted April 7, 2010

    Didn't read the 1st book

    I didn't read the 1st book in the series but I didn't get lost. In this story, Jessie Ann Gaebele pursues her dream of owning her own photographic studio. She moves away from her family to start fresh and to get away from the unforbidden love she has for Mr. Bauer.

    This book is full of twists and turns and just when you think Jessie's dreams are coming true, you are surprised at where the story takes you. Her parents are encouraging her to work for the traveling evangelist and give up her dreams of photography.

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  • Posted April 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Absence So Great

    My Synopsis:

    An Absence So Great (Portraits of the Heart series - Book 2) by Jane Kirkpatrick

    Jesse Gaebele is at a crossroads in her life. She believes she must leave her home and family behind and try to make it as a photographer on her own because of a past relationship. Jesse moves to Milwaukee in order to help a widow manage her photography studio after the death of her husband. But, Jesse's real dream is to own a photography studio of her own.

    Jesse moves toward her dreams but there is always a shadow on her life. Is photography enough to fill the absence in her heart? Jesse struggles with the love she feels for her mentor and friend Fred Bauer, a married man with troubles of his own. From the loss of his son at a young age to the loveless marriage he has endured for many years. Is there some hope for Fred and Jesse? Will Jesse be able to realize her dreams and return from self-appointed exile?

    My Thoughts:

    There are so many things that I really liked about this book. First of all the story is actually based on the story of Jane Kirkpatrick's grandmother, Jesse. Kirkpatrick combines research with her memories and interviews with her grandmother to craft a superb novel.

    One of my favorite parts of the book are the photographs taken by Jesse and used to illustrate the novel. These photo's really stood out, they made the book unique and so much more personal. I loved the wedding photograph of Jesse. Her face seemed to show not only her joy but a contentment, that comes from being satisfied with your life at that moment.

    Jesse in my opinion was quite hard on herself. She decided to go away from her home and family for several reasons. Her feelings for Fred made it difficult for them to work together. As a reader, I thought that perhaps she felt like she had disappointed her family and was ashamed, of her behavior. It was hard to see her struggle to gain that independence and recognition of having her own studio and then feeling as if it had been taken right out from underneath her. I can also understand Fred's position. He wanted to help her. He loved her, but he didn't go about it the right way.

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Review of An Absence so Great

    In An Absence so Great, Jane Kirkpatrick tells the (continuing) story of her Grandmother, Jessie Gaebele.

    This is the second book of the series, the first being A Flickering Light. I had not read the first, but aside from a bit of confusion in the beginning, it didn't matter all that much.

    The story is that of a young woman photographer in the early 20th century. Her struggles with establishing herself as a photographer of merit, working toward owning her own photography studio and her battles with her emotions when it comes to a married man, Fred Bauer, are all laid out plainly and openly.

    Overall, the story was.. very depressing and sad to me. It seemed as if Jessie could not catch a break and I had a difficult time with the eventual outcome of things. But.. that's life for you, even though it would have not been the way I hoped things would end.

    My favorite part of the book, however, were the photographs shown and the short stories, in Jessie's own words, of what was happening in each photograph. These were exciting, thought-provoking and incredibly detailed and beautifully written. By far, they made up the parts of the book I looked forward to the most.

    Overall it is an interesting read and I do recommend it, especially if you are interested in the subject of photography and enjoy looking at older photos and thinking about their stories.

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    Great Read

    I really enjoyed this book. Being that it was about my passion of photography, I was excited to read it. This is actually the second book in the series, but you really would never know that. It does not take away from the story. I loved the vivid detail, as it really made you feel like you were right there. I really would recommend this book to any of my friends. Great read!

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

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    A Satisfying Sequel

    Settle in and enjoy the easy pace of An Absence So Great, the sequel to A Flickering Light, by Jane Kirkpatrick. The story picks up with Jesse Gaebele, a female photographer in the early 20th Century, as she tries to piece her life together after dabbling in a forbidden romance. Real emotions, consequences, and that grace that God offers all flow nicely through the story. To get the full impact of the book, I highly recommend reading A Flickering Light first. What's even more impressive is that the main storyline comes from the author's own family history. A well-told story!

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "An Absence so Great" by Jane Kirkpatrick caught my attention because it is about a young female photographer living in an early 1900 Midwest. Her journey particularly takes her to southeastern Wisconsin. A really interesting tidbit abou

    "An Absence so Great" by Jane Kirkpatrick caught my attention because it is about a young female photographer living in an early 1900 Midwest. Her journey particularly takes her to southeastern Wisconsin. A really interesting tidbit about this book is that it was inspired by actual photographs taken by the author's grandmother. As you read through the book you will also see actual photos and get to read the story behind them. Jessie Gaebele's continuing passion of photography keeps her connected to her past, mainly to the mistakes she's made. She distances herself from those mistakes with time and distance but as long as she photographs she stays connected. She later on discovers that her photography is not the only thing tying her to her mistake, but the mistake itself. This mistake eventually caused everything she thought to be true in her life to be a lie. This mistake stole from Jessie what she thought to be the very definition of herself. Jessie runs from this mistake again, this time tying all loose ends, and her photography pulls her through. Kirkpatrick does a great job at delving into the most passionate emotions of humankind. This novel is a must read.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Maybe it would have been more enjoyable if I'd read the Flickering Light first

    I was disappointed in this book. First of all, it was hard for me to get into it. It wasn't one of those book that I "just couldn't put down." This is the second in a series, and I did not realize that when I started reading. Maybe it would have been easier to follow had I read the first book. I was confused with the characters and knew they had previously had some relationship they weren't supposed to have, but it was never clear exactly what that relationship in the past was. I had a bad feeling towards the two main characters, Jessie and Fred, because it seemed they were so wrapped up in their own feelings that they didn't care who they were hurting because of their obvious continued affections for one another. It makes it hard to write a negative review because this book is based on the life of the author's grandmother. I mean it's not like she could change the facts of what happened. I just didn't agree with their attitudes that their relationship was okay, so I did not enjoy reading the book. I also know there is more to the story than just their inappropriate relationship. The book shows the reader how a woman pursued her love of photography at a time that the business world was dominated by men. </div>
    <div>On a positive note, it was well-written, and I kept thinking how it would be a great book to use as a study like we did in high school English classes. There were certain themes that ran through this book on so many levels, and these would be interesting to study and follow throughout the book. Many comparisons are made to life being like a portrait. I enjoyed the black and white photographs that were included and the stories about them.

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

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    Not My Thing

    This was a difficult book for me to read. I had a hard time getting into it and I think part of it was that the author didn't explain where the characters had come from as this is a second book in the series. I never did really understand what had actually transpired between the two main characters of the book and felt myself being prejudice against them both for their sinful relationship. Maybe that is harsh, but that's exactly what I felt. I never did have sympathy for either character, which is vital when reading a book.

    One thing I did enjoy about the book was the old pictures throughout it. There were stories that went a long with it, and although I knew they were fictional, these little snippets were really interesting and I enjoyed the respite from the main storyline. The pictures did tie in with the story line, so it wasn't awkward, but they were just more interesting to me.

    As I read through the book, I did get more curious about what would happen to these people, so it wasn't a total loss. Honestly, for me, it was hard to like some of the characters, so it made for a difficult read. Perhaps had I read the first book first, it might have been more enjoyable to me and I would have cared more about the characters. It wasn't a total loss because I did enjoy the old pictures and seeing how people dressed and looked. It was also interesting some of the props that were used in the photographs - something you don't usually see today.

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  • Posted March 31, 2010

    Sequel to A Flickering Light is another stunning read

    An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick is the powerful sequel to A Flickering Light. The author calls it historical speculative fiction as she writes about the story of her grandmother Jessie Gaebele as she tries to make her way as a professional photographer in 1910. The story picks up shortly after the events of the first book in which Jessie had fallen in love with her married employer, Fred Bauer, and their relationship crossed the boundaries of what is acceptable, so Jessie fled to Milwaukee, WI from her home in Minona, MN to try and forget about Fred and start a new life on her own two feet. Jessie loves her chosen profession and eventually wants to own a studio, but few men take her seriously. Jessie comes to life on every page, and I was deeply saddened to learn that the series ended with just the two books. Some readers may not agree with decisions Fred makes throughout the course of the story, but it's important to remember that these characters are human and so make mistakes, and that it does not effect the beautiful writing of Kirkpatrick. She completely immerses the reader in the early twentieth century with lots of historical detail making the characters and scenes come to life.

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An Absence TOO Great

    I found An Absence So Great to be quite startling. It came to me via a Christian publishing house and the main character is portrayed as a Godly woman, but apparently a Godly woman who had no concept of the 7th Commandment. An Absence So Great does not tell of of a young girl yearning for God to fill the emptiness in her soul. Jessie pines for a married man 26 years her senior. I am disappointed in the book not for the story or the writing, which indeed were superb, but for the message that adultery does not require repentance and leads to happily-ever-after. I would like to thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

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    An interesting read.

    AN ABSENCE SO GREAT by Jane Kirkpatrick is an historical christian fiction set in the 1900's Wisconsin. This story is interesting as it is an ancestral historical account of photography in this era. It gives insight into the struggles women faced during this era as photographers and getting their business started. The characters are strong and the story is well written. It has true love, family, family commitment, struggles, traded and faith. I thought the story started out rather slow but picked up about middle way of the story. I would recommend this book esp if you enjoy history of this nature. 4 This book was received for review by from Random House.

    Review posted at www.mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    Disappointing

    An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick is a beautifully written book of historical fiction loosely based on the author's grandmother. The story revolves around Jesse, a young girl in the early 1900s trying to make her mark in the field of photography on her own, but finds it difficult as a woman without legal rights. Her connection and insight into the photographs is what made the story interesting and compelling. If, however, you are looking for Christian fiction, I do not recommend this book.

    The book treats those of faith as out of touch with the "modern" world and backward because they are angry with Jesse for her adulterous affair. The wife of her lover is a woman of faith, but also feeble minded because she is grieving the loss of her child. It is also insinuated that she is also trying to seduce her counseling pastor.

    The story was disappointing to me because time after time Jessie made poor decisions in her life. Even when I knew what the conclusion would be, I kept hoping the character would make the right and moral choice. The most disturbing part was when the author tried used scripture to try to justify an adulterous affair and bigamy.

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  • Posted March 26, 2010

    Such a moving story!

    I have read several of Ms. Kirkpatrick's books and enjoyed them all. I must say, this book did not disappoint ~ it is a great story! The story is set in the early 1900's and the main character, Jessie is a young woman trying to make her way in a world where woman were bound by the beliefs of an era that did not see or allow them individual freedom or being recognized as a person who is more than a daughter, wife and mother. My heart was moved by Jessie's challenges and triumphs.

    What makes this book even more special? Jane Kirkpatrick has written this book based on the life of Jessie Gaebele ~ her grandmother. In writing this story, she blended fact and fiction in a style that she is so well known for. The result? A unique and pretty amazing story!

    Many thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah for allowing me the opportunity to review this book!

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    A beautifully written glimpse into the life of a strong, young, independent woman who broke through the stereotypical gender barriers well before her time.

    Once you read one of Jane's beautifully written books, the women she brings to life, will be a part of your life forever! Jane's historical research is so accurate, and the settings so real, you are transported into these women's lives and will completely forget that it is 2010.

    If you have not already read The Flickering Light, make sure you buy it also, when you purchase An Absence So Great. You will want to be introduced to Jessie in her younger years.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific "biographical fiction"

    In 1910 eighteen years old Jessie Ann Gaebele is proof that single young women are going places no one dreamed possible just a few years ago. She has demonstrated skill as a photographer in Milwaukee though gender bias is rampant even when she is buying supplies or obtaining customers. Jessie Ann dreams of one day returning to her hometown of Winona, Minnesota to open up her own photography studio as currently she fills in for those ailing from mercury poisoning. When she triumphantly opens that studio in Winona she will prove to herself that she has not just come a long way, she had made it. However, she also knows her broken heart was an enabler to get her to leave Minnesota for the eastern side of Wisconsin.

    Still as she struggles with male proprietors thinking they can accost a single woman, she also misses her home like the annual boat race, but especially Fred Gottlieb. When he arrives in Milwaukee for the photographic conference to receive an award, Jessie Ann wants to flee, but her time alone taking care of herself has given her courage. She will be polite and congratulate him, but keep herfeelings hidden while keeping a distance. However, Jessie is unaware that Fred has an agenda of his own.

    Reaching back once again to her family tree for the sequel of her grandmother Jessie Ann as a late teen (see The Flickering Light for the earlier years), historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific "biographical fiction". The story line is fast-paced but owned by the lead couple especially the brave heroine who as a pioneer makes it in an era when single young women did not hang out shingles as craftsmen. The support cast like Marie Harms, daughter of the boarding house owner where Jessie Ann stays, enhances the profound look at how far women have come in a century.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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