A Flickering Light
Waterbrook, Apr 2009, $13.99
In 1907 in Winona, fifteen year old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves to take pictures of in Minnesota’s beautiful landscapes. Neither her family nor her peers understand the teenage girl’s obsession with photography. No one except that is professional photographer F.J. Bauer who feels an affinity with the young girl as he loves picture taking too. He hires her as his apprentice.
Jessie Ann proves adept at all the workings involving photography including the use of dangerous toxic chemicals in the backroom and the flash powder used as lighting. However, she feels out of her league as a woman and loaded with guilt when she falls in love with her married mentor as she knows his somewhat difficult wife Jessie is not a bad person. Although he knows not to act on his wants, Bauer finds himself increasingly desiring his apprentice especially her unabated enthusiasm for what he cherishes too, photography.
Reaching back to her family tree, historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific "biographical fiction" of her grandmother as a teen at the turn of the previous century breaking the gender barrier. The key to this super tale is that the prime three players based on real persona are not over the top nasty people; instead the audience will empathize with each. Readers will also obtain a deep look at the danger of photography in the first decade of the twentieth century and cannot help compare it with “danger” of the digital age; as exposure has different connotations. Ms. Kirkpatrick provides a profound look at an era when women were given limited options yet Jessie Ann refuses to allow societal restraints from preventing her from being what she wanted to be and open-minded Bauer encourages her.