©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jane Kirkpatrick, Three Reviews

A Daughter's Walk

This book intrigued me because I had seen the nonfiction work on this event that started and ended near where I live. A determined mother and reluctant daughter made a cross-country trek in the face of criticism, ostracism and nay-sayers. It was a $10,000 bet, so to speak, to see if these women could walk from Spokane, WA, to NY, NY, within seven months. They had to gather signatures of dignitaries in the locales they visited to prove they'd made the walk. There were compensations for unforeseen circumstances, but not for injuries--and a sprained ankle kept them from completing the walk on time.

In this book, you will find the unexpected, the agonizing, the heartbreaking, and a gamut of other emotions. I am not sure that I enjoyed the book--it wasn't my normal fluff, but I will say the book engaged me and didn't let me go. I highly recommend it.

A Flickering Light

I love photography. I started with a Kodak instamatic, then a Kodak pocket camera, and then I moved up to a Pentax SLR (my first one was stolen!) and now I have a Pentax DSLR. I really should keep it with me wherever I am, and I need to take it with me more often than I do.

Jane chronicles the story of Jessie Gaebele, who lives in Winona, Minnesota, and her quest to become a professional photographer in a time when the industry was dangerous to everyone, not just women; and in a time when women were not encouraged or allowed to have a career because that took jobs and money away from the men who were bread-winners for the caretakers of the home.

Jessie, along with another girl, takes a job with FJ Bauer and becomes his right hand woman to run his studio when the mercury used in the photographic process sickens Mr Bauer. Besides the danger from the chemicals, Jessie faces the danger of falling in love with a married man, faces the memories of an accident involving her younger brother, and faces her own family's disappointment, or so she thinks. She takes herself to a self-imposed exile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When I was younger, I loved reading Irving Stone's novelizations of historical people. Jane has brought this style of writing to a new level by writing about people who are close to her heart. Jessie Gaebele is Jane's own grandmother and this makes the story even more gripping. Jane gives us a glimpse into a woman's life at the turn of the century and in the early 1900's. She also shares the difficulty of trying to make it alone as a woman instead of following tried and true traditions of marriage and family. It is worthy of a reader's time.

An Absence So Great

An Absence So Great begins where A Flickering Light left off continuing the chronicle of Jessie Gaebele's life as a photographer. Jessie's travels take her to Milwaukee, Eau Claire, back to Winona, MN, and then to North Dakota in her quest to own her own photographic studio. She lives on her own terms and resents the "good ole boy" networking it takes to meet her goals. This story captivates from the very beginning all the way through to the interview at the end of the book.

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