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An Absence So Great: A Novel (Portraits of…

An Absence So Great: A Novel (Portraits of the Heart) (2010)

by Jane Kirkpatrick

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My Synopsis:

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

(For review from Waterbrook Multnomah)

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.

You Can Learn more about this product or purchase the book from Random House.

Overall this was just a great book. I really enjoyed it and I give it 5 out 5 apples from my book bag!
  DLester | Aug 19, 2010 |
Jane Kirkpatrick was inspired to write this book based upon a collection of stories told through her grandmother’s history. She also used real photographs some of her family and some taken at the turn of the century which are showcased throughout the novel. An Absence so Great tells a story of a young woman pursuing her dreams as a renowned photographer and a woman torn between loving the wrong or perhaps right man. Not so much a romance novel as this is a look into a woman’s heart for true worth and independence.

The book for me started very slow and took awhile to really appreciate, but once I got mid-way through the book it held my interest enough to finish it and find out where Jessie’s heart would lead her. Taking the hard road, one a woman in fiction seldom takes---that being, forgoing staking her claim on the man she loves and leaving everything behind to venture pursuing her own dreams. Number one it was brave and number two due to the fact Fred was married it was a wise decision. That said, I had a hard time liking Fred’s character, whether it was an inability to connect with him or my irritation with Jessie’s feelings for him, I thought the chemistry between them didn’t work and perhaps I was turned off by the fact that Jessie and Fred’s relationship although not sexual started while Fred was still married. Even more I think the age difference was off, Jessie is 18 and Fred is much older with thinning hair, children and a mustache. Ultimately I know love has no age boundaries (of course I’m speaking of legal adults here) but no matter how you slice it- the outcome for these particular characters is laced with tough times ahead.

The writing itself was very beautiful and the fresh layout to a somewhat common love story gave the book its originality. I loved the historical background of the book and thought the research defiantly showed on the pages. Sure to be a pleaser for historical and Christian romance fans. ( )
  Tinasbookreviews | Apr 1, 2010 |
From my blog...
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. ( )
  knittingmomof3 | Mar 31, 2010 |
My thoughts:
Again I found myself reading a book for review that has books preceding it. So it is better of course if you read the first book, The Flickering Light as it is the first book in the series. Jessie is a young woman who has a passion for photography and her goal is to have her own studio. One of the obstacles she faces is the time she lives in where if a woman wants to branch out from being a wife and mother, she is told to "let your husband/father/brother do this sort of work and you go get married and have babies". In the early 1900's a woman had to fight to be able to do things she wants to but if she does that she is considered to be a "loose" woman. Jessie relies on her faith and determination to achieve her goals. She is also trying to go on after a forbidden and scandalous relationship with a unhappily married man whom she also worked with. The man had mercury poisoning from the solutions used in developing pictures. I enjoyed this story and I was drawn to it because the story takes place in Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Eau Clare to be exact. I grew up in Milwaukee so I found it interesting to read what Milwaukee was like at the turn of the century. In each chapter there was a picture and a description of how this picture was taken and it turns out that the author actually used some of her grandmothers pictures as reference.
An enjoyable read!

Received this review copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group ( )
  celticlady53 | Mar 28, 2010 |
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.

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.

This book is being marketed as Christian Fiction. If you would like to read my entire review and why I don't recommend this book, you can go to my blog Bookvisions http://bookvisions.blogspot.com/2010/03/absence-so-great-by-jane-kirkpatrick.htm...
Warning: There are spoilers at the end of my full review, but are clearly marked. ( )
  Tmtrvlr | Mar 27, 2010 |
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To Jerry, who is the loving eye behind the lens.
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A photograph, like life, often reveals as much about who's absent as who's there.
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Jessie Ann Gaebele pursues her dream of owning her own photographic studio as she tries to put the shadow of a forbidden love behind her.

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