Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick - My Review


Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother’s photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman’s pursuit of her dreams. She took exquisite photographs,
but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing—and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.


“The ruts tend to pull the wheels toward them whether the wheels planned to go that way or not.” (p. 306)

Jessie Gaebele is a young lady who wants to follow her dreams. She dreams of owning her own photography studio – a daunting aspiration for a woman in the early 1900’s. However, Jessie’s mind isn’t easily discouraged, because her spirit continues to reach beyond her circumstances toward her dreams. She is a confident risk-taker for someone so young and inexperienced, and when her dreams take her into dangerous emotional territory she is forced to learn how to pull away from the ruts in the road of her life and move in a different direction.

Jane Kirkpatrick has once again woven reality into fiction, and this time she tells a story close to her heart. A Flickering Light is based upon the life of her grandmother, and it is a beautiful portrait of a young woman who is brave enough to pursue her dreams. Jessie Gaebele is one of the hardest-working, most determined characters I’ve encountered in fiction, and I admit that I was inspired by her persistence to pursue her dreams. She didn’t always make wise choices, but she was eventually brave enough to face them and turn away toward something better and brighter.

The early 1900’s was a unique time in history – a time when new technology began to reshape life’s possibilities. In spite of financial hardship, the characters in this story continue to work, to save, to strive toward something better – something that feeds their soul and fulfills their dreams. It’s fascinating to me that spontaneous, casual photography was once considered so frivolous and vain! While today we are taking photos with phones held in the palms of our hands, in the early 1900’s Jessie was willing to troop long distances in the wee hours of daylight carrying a burdensome camera just to capture a photograph. Pictures define our world today, and I’m so glad there were people like Jessie to make that possible!

And while Jane Kirkpatrick’s grandmother painted pictures with her camera, Jane continues to paint powerful stories with her words. I think it is a lovely reflection of what God does in our lives as talent is passed from one generation to the next. A Flickering Light is the introduction to the Portrait of a Woman series. I will look forward to Shimmering Grasses next spring!

You may purchase your own copy here today!

No comments: