When I first started reading An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick, I almost fell out of my chair. From motorcycles to corsets and from an affair to an assault, the book starts out with way too much drama and nowhere near enough background information. The plot is chaotic, baffling, and disorganized. Throughout the book I was confused as to what audience Jane Kirkpatrick was trying to connect to. Using words that were not era-appropriate, and that offended either the young generation or the old, caused her writing to be almost painful to read. Kirkpatrick’s freewheeling use of grammar is not creative, only distracting. Radical writing can be refreshing at times, but when it goes overboard, it becomes a parody of itself and comes off as silly. That is the situation in this book.
The plot’s main character, Jessie, is not endearing at all; in fact, I was perplexed at the inconsistency of her feminist calling. One moment her ladylike qualities are obvious, but the next minute she is rebellious and confrontational. I could never quite understand her agenda, goals, and ambitions.
In trying to be linguistically clever, Kirkpatrick tires to revamp overused clichés, but ends up confusing her readers. An example of this is the phrase “all of my children clucked around me.” I really didn’t know what that meant, even when reading it in context, which was annoying.
There is no strong Christian message in this book, and the characters are iconoclastic, illogical, and outright bizarre at times. I finished the entire book, but was not rewarded by an improvement of style or content as the story progressed. Sorry, I cannot recommend this book. – Claire Hadley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.
Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.