Jane Kirkpatrick's historical novel An Absence So Great has been a glorious read, a return for me to the type of writing I grew up reading.
Set in Wisconsin in the early 1900s, Jessie Gaebele is entering adulthood working for the town's photographer. (While I missed this portion of the story, not realizing there was a book prior to An Absence So Great, this novel can stand on its own). As An Absence So Great begins,Jessie moves to Wisconsin, after she believes she has caused her family shame with the relationship she has had with Mr. Bauer. While assisting at the Bauer Photo Studio, Jessie realizes she has feelings for the owner of the shop, Fred Bauer, who happens to be a married father, much her senior. Her move to Wisconsin allows her the opportunity to pursue her love of photography and get away from the feelings she feels it was wrong to have. However, when her help is no longer needed there, she moves back home and once again runs into Fred Bauer. The two continue to try and deny their feelings for each other, and as time passes Jessie once again leaves her hometown of Winona, MN, to try to make a fresh start. Yet even with Jessie gone from Winona, the feelings she and Fred have for each other don't end, and their story is not over.
Kirkpatrick's novel is based on people in her own family's history and different photographs are sprinkled throughout the novel, helping this book feel as though Jessie's story is indeed fact. This book is a romance, but also a wonderful historical fiction novel, providing a snapshot of life in the midwest during the early 1900s, even detailing the art of photography during that time. I truly loved this story and even though it can stand alone, I will be looking for the first book, A Flickering Light to read of the way in which Jessie and Fred's relationship began.
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This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah Press.