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A Flickering Light (Portraits of the Heart, Book 1) Paperback – Bargain Price, April 14, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Historical novelist Kirkpatrick (A Tendering in the Storm) is exceptionally authentic in her use of early 20th-century history. Virtually all the characters are real figures; protagonist Jessie Ann Gaebele is inspired in this biographical fiction by the writer's own grandmother. Jessie Ann loves photography, and when she is hired as an assistant to photographer F.J. Bauer, she learns about the field of her dreams and also about herself, as she finds herself attracted to her married boss, who battles his own feelings in return. Kirkpatrick renders the war among desire, duty and restraint with exquisite nuance. There are no unsympathetic characters in this tangle of relationships. Bauer's wife—also named Jessie—may be difficult to live with, but she has her reasons. The period detail—dangerous chemicals used in photography, debilitating and frequent illnesses, the routine constraints on women's choices—offers a compelling portrait of the time. Kirkpatrick deserves a wide audience for this coming-of-age tale that is aching and hopeful. (Apr.)
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From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Set in 1907 Minnesota, the latest from Kirkpatrick ("Change and Cherish" and "Tender Ties" series) is a coming-of-age tale about a 15-year-old girl working as a photographer's assistant. Jessie Ann Gaebele is talented and shows great promise; however, she begins to dream of more than photographs when she falls for her married boss. Inspired by the life of the author's grandmother, this is a beautifully told story of temptation and God's redeeming grace. Highly recommended for CF and historical fiction collections.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Original edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157856980X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578569809
  • ASIN: B0044KN41O
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,032,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

If you'd like more information about me, please come visit my website at and click on my blog. My dog also has a blog and you can find out what it's like to be Bodacious Bo, too. A monthly newsletter called Story Sparks is my way of sharing books about authors I enjoy as well as commenting on life and love. You'll find out more about me than you probably ever wanted to know!

One item not listed on my lists of books is my selection included in an anthology called "Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West" published by Houghton Mifflin I also have a piece in Storytellers II, a book published a few years ago by Multnomah Press and a few short selections in Daily Guideposts of a few years back. My first novella, "The Courting Quilt" is part of a collection that made the New York Times bestsellers September 2011 in a collection called Log Cabin Christmas. The rest of my writing, as they say, is history. Or it was until my first contemporary came out this fall. Called Barcelona Calling, it's the story of a writer who loses her way as she seeks fulfillment thinking she'll find it with fame. It's a laugh out loud book according to reviewers. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Connie Y. Mishali on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
A Flickering Light is a novel by Jane Kirkpatrick regarding a young woman's desire to follow her passion to have a career in photography at the turn of the 20th century when (1) young women didn't have careers and (2) photography was dangerous for a man with its use of chemicals and flashpowder and all but forbidden for a woman. The story's protagonist, Jessie, also has to battle the attraction she feels for her employer, teacher and mentor, an unhappily married man. A Flickering Light is a coming of age story in a historical setting at a time when women were hardly main characters in their own lives! I thought this book was fascinating from the standpoint that we take photography for granted nowadays with 6 year olds publishing digital pictures on the worldwide web. It was interesting to see how the artform, industry and technology evolved and to see it from the point of a young women's libber struggling to be a "good" daughter in early 1900s was fascinating.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By singingthroughtherain(dot)net on May 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Jane Kirkpatrick's first book in the series, Potraits of the Heart, was absolutely enthralling! When I was given this book, I thought it was going to be something I would not be able to get into, but I was so wrong! A Flickering Light is based on the life of Jane Kirkpatrick's grandmother, and knowing that made the story even more intriguing!

Jane Kirkpatrick takes her readers on a journey in the life of Jessie, a teenage girl who loves taking pictures. Jessie is a young woman who takes a job in the studio of Mr. Bauer, who has promised to help her learn much about taking pictures and developing them. There at the studio with her friend Voe, Jessie learns all that she can under Mr. Bauer's tutorledge, and also comes to know Mr. Bauer and his family quite well. When Mr. Bauer becomes sick, Jessie helps take over the studio and finds that she does quite well, and wants to spend her life in photography and eventually own her own studio. As the months go by though, Jessie's life is filled with tempatation as she trys to deny her attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer. As Jessie trys to decide what is right she must also decide what is important for her career. Will her growing fondness of Mr. Bauer get in the way?

This book was quite different from anything I have ever read. It drew me in from the beginning, from the storytelling to the diary entries and pictures included. All of those things and also Mrs. Kirkpatrick's abounding research made this story, one I will soon not forget!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca DeMarino on May 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
A Flickering Light is a lovely story of a 15 year old girl growing up in Winona, Minnesota, amidst the turn of the century, in a strict, but loving family. Her love for the art of photography draws her to answer a want ad for a Photographer's assistance. Jessie is hired by F.J. Bauer and her career begins. Mr. Bauer shares with her all that he knows about photography and his business, but the surprise is how much he learns from her, not only about the art but about life. Jane Kirkpatrick weaves an intricately beautiful tale about a young girls heart and a gentleman's desire. She pulls you into the story and leaves you with that warm, cozy feeling that you have made a new friend. I look forward to the next book in the series!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By rachel on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Jessie Gaebele loves photography. Her mind frames potential images everywhere she looks in her Minnesota town. Jessie is fortunate enough to find a placement at FJ Bauer's photography studio where she burgeons into a working and professional woman whose hand at portraits and talent for putting "sitting" clients at ease prove her a natural.

I enjoyed this turn- of -the -century tale about a spunky woman who has the rare chance to make something independent of her self: regardless of the social constrictions of her time and circumstance.

Kirkpatrick does a notable job of creating the dark room world of Jessie, her friend Voe and the imitable FJ Bauer. Likewise, the portraits of domesticity: whether at Jessie's home with her stern parents and challenged brother or at the Bauer residence: which, when unveiled, is a formidable look at a crumbling marriage guised by poise and outward appearance.

I often felt I was walking down a street with Jessie, peering above the wrought iron gates to mansard roofs and wafting lace curtains to gaslights and cozy hearths. Kirkpatrick does a remarkable job of painting life as it was. In fact, as is often my highest compliment as an imaginative reader, she made me nostalgiac for a time period I never lived in.

As this is a fictionalized biography of her grandmother, Kirkpatrick has numerous photos Jessie took or posed for and these loan an interesting and unusual physicality to the plot. Your imagination is somewhat stopped by virtue of the fact that you know what Jessie looks like: a plain, proper, probably well-mannered woman of her time.

I very much enjoyed learning about the dissonant opinions treating photography as art and commercialism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christina Lockstein on May 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
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.
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