First in A Portrait of a Woman series couldn't be any better
May 1, 2009
A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick in the first in the historical fiction series A Portrait of a Woman. Kirkpatrick has fictionalized the story of her grandmother Jessie Gaeble who worked as a photographer's assistant in 1907 Winona, Minnesota for F.J. Bauer. Jessie is a feisty, tiny girl of fifteen when she starts working at Bauer's studio with her own ideas about how photographs should be taken. Bauer takes her under his wing and teaches her how to pose photos, develop them, and run a studio, which is necessary when he succumbs to occasional mercury poisoning leaving him unable to run the business for months on end. Bauer has a less than perfect marriage, and the two are drawn together by their common love of their craft. Kirkpatrick has an unusual talent for creating incredibly real characters. It's the rare book that is so great that its characters find their way into my dreams. For me, that's an indicator of a book that is far above the masses of similar books in the genre. I am completely pulled into the story, and when the final page is turned, find myself missing the characters inside. Thank goodness this is a series! Kirkpatrick captures turn of the century life in a small Midwestern town and fills it with characters the reader can't help but take to heart.