Friday, April 2, 2010

‘An Absence So Great’ by Jane Kirkpatrick – Book Review and Giveaway

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Set in 1910 and thereafter, 'An Absence So Great' picks up from ‘A Flickering Light,’ the first book in the ‘Portrait of the Heart’ series, and follows the continuing saga of Jessie Ann Gaebele, an eighteen year old photographer, who was born and raised in Winona Minnesota.  The story is based on the life of Jane Kirkpatrick’s own grandmother.   

Here is the book trailer for this fascinating novel:

The main character, Jessie Ann Gaebele, was an astute businesswoman who had her own business in the fairly new field of photography.  Her belief was that a woman needed to be able to take care of herself – to not rely on men to take care of them.  She had a strong sense of wanderlust – and she lived a very adventurous life.   

Jessie worked for a gentleman named Fred Bauer, a German immigrant who owned a photography studio.  Their relationship began in ‘A Flickering Light’ and continues here.  Although I have not read ‘A Flickering Light’ (yet!), it is clear from reading ‘An Absence So Great’ that they were attracted to each other (Fred was a married man), and Jessie needed to get away from the situation.  She did so by moving to Milwaukee Wisconsin. 

Jane provided a handy ‘Cast of Characters’ list and a map of Winona Minnesota circa 1900 at the beginning of the book.  I found that list and that map to be of great value in order to more easily follow along and to get a better perspective on the story.

I was totally captivated by this book.  I made the mistake of starting to read it late in the evening; fortunately, I did not have any early engagements the next morning, or I would not have made them!  I read the book in just a couple of sittings.  Jane’s writing style is entertaining and very creative. 

And I was finding myself admiring Jessie for her strong sense of self and amazing resilience and work ethic.  She had a wonderful artistic sense, and always had her eyes open to the possibilities and to the future (with the occasional regret for past mistakes).  She ultimately realized that she was missing out on the important things in life by dwelling on the past and on her shortcomings.  I was also attracted to Jessie’s character because she was attracted to a man named Fred of German descent (that’s my husband’s name)!

I was also intrigued by the fact that Jane often mentioned the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who had a studio near where Jessie lived, in her book.  Although he often had a tumultuous personal life, I have always been interested in his work.

I found Jane to have a wonderful way with words.  Here is an example – both for its lovely writing and for its helpful words of wisdom:

Today atop those hills looking west, she affirmed that she might never marry, but she could be part of something good if she set aside regrets, if she ceased demeaning and instead admitted that her self-pity, jealousy, and hopelessness were as offensive as her part in [edited by me – spoiler].  Perhaps then she could be available for….love, for the good God intended for everyone.  That’s what her pastor assured.  She decided that self-pity was an even greater transgression than going to a movie theater or attending a sporting dance…. (p. 327)

Here’s one more wonderful passage:

When I’m feeling low, I pull out my photo album and remember as I did that day that photography was my life only until I discovered what life is really made of: the settings, props, and poses we encounter, then put aside so we can cherish family and faith, live fully, and abide until we go…. His caring eye behind the lens captured a love that now helps fill an absence so great I could not have prepared for it on my own.  God remains my guide. (p. 367)

Some neat facts in the Author Interview at the back of the book:

·         The photos included in the book were taken by Jessie; several are those of her family.
·         Jessie passed away in 1990 at age 98.
·         Jane learned that she and her grandmother had a lot in common:

“Like Jessie, I tend to deal with disappointment by first avoiding then acknowledging the truth.  I struggle with unworthiness, distancing myself at times from spiritual support, and have to work at seeing what’s past become water under the bridge.  How I deal with absences of the heart gained dimension in the writing of this book.” (p. 374)

There is also a Reader’s Guide with questions for personal reflection or group discussion.  This would be a fascinating book for a book club, and Jane offers phone interviews for book groups.

Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning, best-selling author of sixteen historical novel and three non-fiction title, including ‘A Flickering Light,’ the first part of Jessie Gaebele’s story.  She is a native of Wisconsin; for the past twenty-five years, she and her husband Jerry have lived on a ranch in Oregon.

You can order this book here.           
This book was provided to me by Waterbrook Press for review and giveaway purposes.

I have a copy of this book that I would love to pass along to one of you! 

There are several ways to gain entry:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, telling me what is most intriguing to you about this book.  Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back!  If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

3) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

4) Become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are five chances to enter!  Please limit one entry per option.

This give away is for U.S. residents only.  The deadline for entry is Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Saturday, April 17, 2010 and will be contacted via email.  The best to all of you!


Wendy said...

I love the fact that this book is based on her grandmother's life.

Wendy said...

I am also a google friend.

Julia said...

I think its neat that Jane made a new "bond" with her grandmother by writing this story and realizing how much they had in common.


Julia said...

I added you to my FB friends list.


Anonymous said...

i love the cover of this fabulous book...thanks for the chance to read it

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Abi said...

I have read other of Jane's books. love them. This one intrigues me because it has to do with grandmas items. old things.

I have watched the video several times. Even voted for it twice in a contest.

I'd love to win this book. Thanks.

I heard about your giveaway from Carman.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Abi said...

I'm a google friend follower.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

PriviesAndPrims said...

First I must say that Carman sent me!
I would love to read this book because I also do photography.


I also became a follower and sent a friend request on facebook!

Paris said...

Carman sent me! I would love to read this book:)

Atypical Girl said...

I would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.


Krista said...

I find the subject of photography in books fascinating.
Please enter me in this contest!

Annette W. said...

I will trust that it is great when you said how captivating it was! I'd love it!

derekannette at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

Jessie Ann sounds like a wonderful, strong woman that I would like to know more.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Carole said...

I enjoy Jane's writing to begin with, and I love the personal touch of her grandmother's influence on this book. Very good quotes, Andrea! Thank you for the chance to win An Absence So Great.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Carole said...

I'll list my other entries in one post:

I follow you on Twitter.

I follow on the Google Friend Connection.

I'm a Facebook friend.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Mystica said...

I've read quite a few reviews on this book which were all good. I think it will be a good read.


Cindy W. said...

I love the cover of this book. I also love photography. I am a Google Follower and a fan on Facebook.

Please enter me into your contest and thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Wanda said...

It intrigues me that this book is actually based off of the life of the author's grandmother. We love a chance to read this book.


Jo said...

The best advise I have is not to give up. There is a big need for communication in relationships and people give up too easily.


Jo said...

I'm following your blog


Jo said...

I'm following you on twitter as ladijo


Jo said...

I'm following you on facebook as ladijo.


Megan said...

Because I have read the first book, A Flickering Light, I am most interested in finding out what happens to little Roy! But I'm excited to hear that Frank Lloyd Wright gets mention in this book. That will be interesting.

We posted about your giveaway at Winning Readings.


Anonymous said...

I like that it is about a strong female character, a woman of confidence.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Nancye said...

There are some things about this book that intrigue me.

-the danger that went with along with the job as a photographer

-the fact that this book is based on thee author's grandmother's real life

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I follow you on Twitter
ID: @NancyeDavis

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Facebook Friend

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Follower/Google Friend Connect

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I follow you on Networked Blogs

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Amanda said...

I am most interested in the fact that it was based on her own grandmother's life. Books are always more intriguing to me when I know that there is some basis in a real life!

Benita said...

I love that this book is written like a memoir, is classified as historical fiction and is Christian fiction as well.


Benita said...

Follower via GFC.


Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Friends -

Thanks for all of the wonderful comments! I appreciate the connections I have made through this blog!

Blessings -


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