Title: An Absence So Great
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher’s Synopsis: 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.
Oh, my word. I’ve loved Jane Kirkpatrick’s books since I read All Together In One Place. GREAT book. This is another amazing story. Jane Kirkpatrick has a beautiful ability to take a true story and fictionalize it. She writes about real people with real problems and weaknesses. It seems as though she’s drawn to independent women who make unusual choices in their lives, and An Absence So Great is no different.
The book begins with a photograph, a slight vignette about why that picture was taken, the story surrounding it, and it seems to set the tone for the next chapter/section. The heroine, Jessie, is torn between wanting what is wrong to desire and knowing that her heart desires it anyway. I love how each person in the book is shown with all their faults, strengths, weaknesses, and glory moments. You pity Mrs. Baur, despise her, and see how similar she is to her husband… even though she sees herself so far above him. Jessie is so strong and fiercely independent. Her parents see her as rejecting their upbringing, but really, she makes decisions, almost every chapter, that show how committed she is to the same values.
Sin isn’t glorified in this book, but neither is it preached about. It’s confronted, for what it is, and the reader is left to determine where it fits in the scheme of Scripture. It takes talent to do that without leaving the reader with the impression that the author condones it.
On the negative scale, there were places the story truly stalled. I had to go back and reread sections to understand where she was trying to take the story. It certainly isn’t a story killer, but it was frustrating.
Do I recommend it? Without question. I love reading these fictionalized true stories by Ms. Kirkpatrick. I feel obligated to point out that things happen in this book that aren’t what we’d always like to see in Christian fiction. Without giving away the plot, things that I believe are wrong and very damaging to families happen as a matter of course. However, this is biographical fiction. This is the actual story of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s grandmother and her life. She can only write what happened in that case. She can’t whitewash what happened to make it fit into the neat boxes that Christian fiction usually confines their heroes and heroines in.
I’d like to thank Water Brook for providing me with this copy to review. You can win this copy by posting a comment. Please tell me how old your favorite picture is!
And, as always, please be sure to read my Giveaways disclaimer if you haven’t read it in the past or as a refresher!