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 a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.
With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.
This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing-and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.
Wrap yourself in a fantastic journey,
a remarkable commitment, and a spare and splendid story
Master storyteller Jane Kirkpatrick extols the beautiful treasures, unknown to a wider public, rediscovered in the Old Aurora Colony of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. The people and legacy of Aurora, a utopian community founded in the mid-1800s, will stir your imagination, hopes, and dreams; and remind you that every life matters-that our lives are the stories other people read first.
More than 100 photographs, many never-before published, from 1850 to today
Cherished stories from Aurora descendants
An introduction by renowned American artist John Houser
Aurora is about the difference every ordinary life can make-and a beautiful celebration of a time and place in which people expressed their most cherished beliefs through the work of their imagination and hands.
JANE KIRKPATRICK is a writer, speaker, teacher and mental health professional. Her award-winning essays, articles, and humor have appeared in over fifty publications such as Decision, Country and Daily Guideposts. She’s written 14 novels and three non-fiction books including the Wrangler award-winning book A Sweetness to the Soul, a story inspired by a fifty-year old essay a Depression-era schoolboy wrote about his distant ancestors – the Sherars. Her titles have been finalists for the Oregon Book Award, the Spur Award from Western Writers, Reader’s Choice and the WILLA Literary Award of Women Writing the West. Literary Guild, Book of the Month, Doubleday Book Club and Crossings have chosen her books as main features or alternate selections. Her novel A Tendering in the Storm was named a Christy Finalist and won the WILLA Literary Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction for 2008.
Jane grew up near Mondovi, Wisconsin, a little town not far from the Mississippi River. Her older sister Judy and younger brother Craig helped on the family dairy farm. Dozens of cousins lived within 50 miles providing the privilege of extended family memories. Most of the “Rutschow” clan remained in the Wisconsin-Minnesota area. Jane moved to Oregon in 1974 after completing her master’s degree in social work. She worked in the disabilities field, became the director of the mental health program in Deschutes County and eventually “retired” from there to homestead and begin a new adventure in writing, working on the reservation, growing watermelons, and attempting to grow grapes, alfalfa and cattle. In 2007, they sold the cows, again; and now raise alfalfa they sell to neighboring ranches.
The Kirkpatrick’s new life has included “clearing sagebrush and wrestling wind and rattlesnakes” while “homesteading” land on the John Day River in a remote part of Oregon known locally as Starvation Point. She and her husband Jerry still live there today. “It’s our ‘rural 7-Eleven’ since our home sits seven miles from the mailbox and eleven miles from the pavement” notes the author. Additionally, she worked for seventeen years as a mental health and educational consultant on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon with both Native American and non-Indian communities a position she left in 2002. Jane has two step-children. Kathleen lives in Florida with her family and youngest granddaughter, Madison. Matt lives in Wasco and works on the ranch full time when not looking after his family including granddaughter, Mariah.
A lively and humorous speaker, Kirkpatrick is a frequent keynote presenter for conferences, women’s retreats, and workshops. In addition to her historical fiction which dramatizes pioneer life, Homestead relates, with love and laughter, her own family’s modern-day struggle to catch a dream in the Oregon Territory.
Jane believes that our lives are the stories that others read first and she encourages groups to discover the power of their own stories to divinely heal and transform. Visit her blog for more information about her current projects and the joys of living on Starvation Lane.