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A Flickering Light

(Portraits of the Heart #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother's photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman's pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs,
but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing
Paperback, 377 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Waterbrook Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  588 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Jane Kirkpatrick
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is a book I wrote. But I'm posting this review for a Canadian reader who had trouble posting it. "In her indubitable way, Jane has exercised once again her God given gift for writing. With this story she brings to light a tale she has woven around her grandmother, Jessie Ann Gaebele’s life. It was a life which offers us a glimpse into the background of the little known profession --- early photography. By showing us Jessie’s keen interest in this art form, Jane has given those of us who liv ...more
Tara Chevrestt
This was an enjoyable read for the most part. It is written somewhat like a memoir and told from the viewpoint of a teenage girl in the early 1900s. Jessie comes from a very religious family with very set ideas regarding women and "their place," but Jessie is a bit of a black sheep and despite some misgivings from her parents, she desires a career in photography. Photography in the 1900s was a mostly male dominated profession and the chemicals used often had negative effects on the users so it w ...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
This book sounded very interesting to me, a young girl at the beginning of the 20th century becomes apprentice to a photographer in Minnesota, “biographical fiction” based on the author's grandmother. I was delighted when a generous winner of an Advanced Reading Copy passed it on to me.

As an ARC, it did have errors that most likely were corrected prior to publication, as I expect in an uncorrected proof. Aside from that, I'm afraid it is just not my kind of book. The author is a writer of Chris
Aug 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
I struggled with this book. A Flickering Light is dripping with jealousy, bitterness, animosity and only one likeable main character. "Young" Jessie kept me reading and by the end I was completely fed up with her to. I couldn't find any likeable thing about Mr. Bauer her love from a far interest. It was truly difficult for me to understand what drew this woman to this unfortunate man. She spent most of her life entangled in wretched drama. I never did find the light in this story. I will howeve ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gentle-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jesse is a young woman, 16 years-old living in a small town of Minnesota in the early 1900s, before the war. She is in love with photography and has found work in a portrait studio. Her passion is palpable and she has a kind though sickly boss to train her. He has numerous problems, with his unloving wife, that one son died at a young age and perhaps due to his lack of care, and that he is not very forward thinking in his insight into photography. He is against landscape or candid photography. H ...more
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I did enjoy this book for the historical aspect of the dawn of photography in the turn of this century. It was also a good exploration of human emotions and what a Christian has at our disposal to protect others from unhealthy preoccupations. This was the story of Jane Kirkpatrick's grandmother, and by virtue of that fact, a quite intriguing read. Our book club majority decided that the next book in the series would be a "must read"!
Carol Tedder
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
From the first page to the last I felt like Jesse's shadow, seeing what she saw, feeling what she felt, as she experienced new and confusing feelings that challenged her faith and the standards of a loving family and conservative community in an earlier time. This story is rich and compelling, blending love, acceptance and forgiveness into painful and difficult circumstances. A wonderful read.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
It was OK. It had some interesting streams regarding turn of the century photography, how it involved dangerous chemicals and a male dominated profession ( which job wasn't at that time) but I just couldn't see how a young girl of 16 could find the older man (her employer) attractive or compelling.
Stephanie Barko
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who enjoy independent female characters, historical fiction, and the early 1900s.
Am reading an ARC of this book.
The author is quite accomplished.
I met she & her agent last fall at a writers' conference.
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am consistently amazed at Ms. Kirkpatrick’s historical fiction books. They not only bring to light the person they are written about but many social and cultural differences in that time period.
I had never even considered all photography in the early 20th century involved until I read this book. Jessie Gaebele was a bit of a modern woman in the sense that she wanted more than anything to pursue a career in photography. Women just didn’t do that; they weren’t supposed to have careers at all! E
Rachel McMillan
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 con
Betty Ann Baer
May 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book because of the love story that developed. The girl was just wanting to learn to be a good photographer. She learned from her employer great techniques and was ready to work for him or to go out on her own. She and the employer got feelings for each other. He is a married man. That is why I don't like the book. It also took forever to say anything from one chapter to another.
Jessie Ann Gaeble is born in the late 1800’s. During this era, many children do not attend high school. They find jobs to support their family or start their career. Jessie is one of these children.

She loves to take pictures. She is interested in every aspect of photography. Jessie is overjoyed when her uncle gives her a camera one year and she treasures it with every breath that she takes. She takes it wherever she goes because she never knows when a butterfly will flit by or the perfect settin
Mar 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Set in the early 1900s this Christian historical centers around Jessie Gaebele who has a heart for photography. She finds herself working for Mr. F.J. Bauer in his studio and darkroom, learning the techniques. As time passes, Mr. Bauer suffers debilitating illnesses at two separate times, leaving Jessie and her friend Voe running his studio, while he recovers at home with his wife and children. Jessie proves more than competent as she excels at both the art and business side of studio photograph ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a fictional biography of the author's grandmother during the first decade of the 20th century in Minnesota (while she was 15 - 18 years old). Jessie Ann Gaebele loves photography - especially landscapes - and dreams of owning her own photography business one day. As the middle sister, who has completed 8th grade, in a family that struggles financially, when it is Jessie's turn to get a job to help out, she is hired by photographer, F. J. Bauer as his assistant (along with friend, Voe Kup ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am a fan of Jane Kirkpatrick's books because I always learn something about history, geography or inventions and I enjoy learning while I'm being entertained by a good book. I also appreciate Kirkpatrick's stories because she doesn't rely on smut to carry her plots forward. However, A Flickering Light demonstrates that a potentially good story gets lost by having too many characters introduced with too much side clutter that detracts from the central character. Jessie needed to stand out more ...more
Elizabeth S
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jane Kirkpatrick is a brilliant writer and I was impressed with the prose and character development of this story.
I do object to the label of Christian Fiction. Certain characters actions seem to be repeatedly breaking biblical principles. The characters seem to have rather lukewarm faith.
Nevertheless if you remove the label the story is reminiscent of Willa Cather. Kirkpatrick has a gift for character development.
Jessie is a surprisingly relatable character despite the fact that she is carry
Christy Lockstein
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 stud ...more
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jessie Gaebele is an amateur photographer in 1907, Minnesota. She loves nothing more than to take pictures of the beautiful landscape and the people she loves. When she is hired at the Bauer Studio to assist in developing photos and learning how to run the business, she knows she is headed in the right direction for her life and career.

There are hazards that come with the territory; the explosive powder used for lighting, and the toxic chemicals used for developing the prints. It is considered a
May 11, 2010 rated it liked it
There were two aspects of A Flickering Light that drew me in personally. The story is set around 1907 in Minnesota… a time frame and location I recently researched for my own ancestry. My grandparents came from Browerville, Minnesota and were married in 1909. Also, like the main character I also worked for a professional photographer for three years, from the age of 15 to 18, thus many memories were sparked (enough so that I Googled Richard Weede the photographer for whom I worked).

Overall, I e
Jane Greene
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history lovers and romantics
This is the first book I have read by Kirkpatrick. She visited our local bookstore and I purchased an autographed copy of her book. I'm glad I did. Kirkpatrick bases her book on family history, drawing from old photographs, verbal history and documents/letters to weave a tale largely based on the lives of actual people, including her Grandmother Jessie (lead character). Jessie is a young 16 year old in the early 1900's. Raised in a family with strong Christian values, Jessie is a young lady ahea ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful Jane Kirkpatrick novel! I just love her writing and this one did not disappoint. Written about Jane's very own Grandmother, this story brings Jessie Gaebele's love of photography and dreams of her own studio alive. Jessie is a young girl, working to help out her family and just happens to get a postition that she loves, at a photography studio in her hometown of Winona, Minnesota. Jessie's joy at learning her trade and expanding her talent is only dampened by her worry over her ...more
Jan 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Early photography did not make use of flickering light.
The "flickering light" in the title could refer to how this young woman's burning passion to become a photographer was frequently damped by circumstances surrounding women in this era. But it also could refer to the confusion in her affairs of the heart, which also burned. Other reviews give enough of the plot. Let me just say that I found this book to be surprisingly engaging as it showed a young woman who would not admit to herself, until
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
A slow-moving story about a young woman in the early 1900s who aspires to become a photographer. Jessie Gaebele takes a job as an assistant to photographer F. J. Bauer, a man whose marriage has suffered since the accidental death of his young son. Jessie and Bauer are drawn to each other and, though they never actually commit adultery, they do share intimacy. When Jessie's secret desires are revealed to her family, she realizes she must leave town altogether to escape the temptation of forbidden ...more
Georgia Herod
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Well, I'm absolutely captivated by Kirkpatrick--and am headed toward reading everything she's written. Her historical fiction is rich with imagery, with characters of depth, powerful in emotion and thought, with authentic conflicts.

Jessie Gaebele is a gifted young woman who has a dream of becoming a photographer--long before women are recognized in that field. Her goals, her values, her dreams set her life in motion, when an unintended potential romance with her married employer creates moral a
Michelle Hendricks
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked the topic of a woman in the early 1900's trying to become a professional photographer (traditionally a man's job). I thought there was a lot of technical info about photography, but I'm sure a professional would say it was all over simplified. The book was a slow read for me, and I threatened to put it down a few times. I finished it.

Then, at the end of the book, the author mentions a sequel. Sigh. I might check it out to see what happens to the Gaebele family.

Also of interest in the a
Stormie Walston
May 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Emotionally draining!! The author draws you into the life of an young girl in the early 1900's with a passion for photography. It is very interesting to learn about "old school" photography but the story quickly get's to it's main and emotionally draining focus. This book is primarily about the development of an inappropriate relationship that occurs between the young shopkeeper and her married employer (26 years her senior!). The author does "too good" of a job of depicting her thoughts, emotio ...more
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Jesse's quest to support her family and learn photography engaged me, but what I found most compelling was the story of her relationship with her employer, as two honorable people with the best of intentions come dangerously close to crossing the line. A much harder story to write than either a traditional love story with a happy ending, or a sordid tale of unbridled passion.

The author always sets her historical novels in beautifully constructed and well-researched settings. Her descriptions of
Diana Stevan
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a gentle story of a fifteen year girl with a passion for photography, at a time when women weren't encouraged to have careers of their own. Over the next three years, she develops not only her skills as a photographer, but also her desire as a young woman for a man who is not available in more ways than one. What I especially loved was Jane Kirkpatrick's prose. Simple, thoughtful, and elegant. I was also intrigued by that period of history, the early twentieth century, wh ...more
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Kirkpatrick brings us a story of one woman's restoration from personal grief to the meaning of community."

Other books in the series

Portraits of the Heart (2 books)
  • An Absence So Great (Portraits of the Heart, #2)