Originally Posted at Bibliophile's Retreat by Melissa Meeks
WaterBrook Press (April 14, 2009)
Kirkpatrick like many of the women she portrays in her novels is often trying something new, attempting to stretch the limits of convention and the constraints of society on what is accepted. This book is a successful example of doing things differently just as the heroine Jessie Gaebele (Jane’s grandmother) does things her own way though not always successfully. Jane has written a biographical novel of Jessie’s coming of age years, the narrative covers approximately ages 15 to 19. However this isn’t just a cookie cutter novel, besides being the story of an immediate relative, the novel chapters have been interspersed with commentary from the heroine on some of the photographs that captured her imagination – some her own others taken by different photographers. Included in the commentary on these photos are snippets of the story itself as well as tips and concepts Jessie learned about photography throughout her career behind the camera.
As a fifteen year old just finding her legs in the world of work and blooming womanhood, Jessie discovers a passion for photography thanks to the gift of a small camera from her Uncle. The camera becomes her constant companion even to the point of sneaking out before sunrise one morning to capture a scene she has imagined as a stunning landscape image but requires several ingredients that are incredibly time sensitive to make the picture she has envisioned preserving for posterity. This particular adventure is waylaid for a number of reasons and she nearly misses the interview her mother arranged for her to apply as the assistant to a local portrait studio’s owner. While this turns out to be a dream job in many respects it also presents trials and temptations both for herself and for her employer that soon endanger her self respect and his family’s cohesiveness. In identifying with Jessie’s desire for affection and belonging I also began to understand how the photography as well as a dangerous and forbidden relationship with her employer could entice her from more practical pursuits and a fulfilling relationship that wouldn’t compromise anyone’s integrity or hurt those they ought to care for the most. As with most historical novels I’ve read and loved this one drew me into an era, the lives lived within its span and their impact on those around them as well as history itself. Jane always seems to not only choose women figures with unique independence of spirit and feisty personalities but ones who blaze a new trail for those who follow in their footsteps in days, months and years to come. Jessie is one such heroine who probably not only portrays a woman unique to her times but also exhibits a spirit that was inherited by at least one grandchild who went on to share it with many readers in this novel and many other books. (ISBN#9781578569809, 400pp, $13.99)
Visit Jane’s website. Also don’t forget to click the bookcover above to purchase your own copy or read more about the book. Also visit the publisher's site. This book begins a new series titled Portraits of a Woman – book 2, Shimmering Grasses is expected to release from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group next Spring. I wish I didn’t have to wait another year for more of Jessie’s story.