April 19, 2019
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Tragic Events, New York City
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A beautiful scarf with a marigold design connects two women who experience traumatic and personally devastating events almost one hundred years apart. Clara witnesses the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 in Manhattan while Taryn witnesses the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Both young women suffer loss and experience the effects of PTSD. This is a story of their healing journey and their decision to risk love again.
The Author: Before starting my review, I must mention that Susan Meissner is a favorite author and I’m in the process of reading some of her back list. I first discovered her when I read As Bright As Heaven (4 Stars), and then I went on to read The Last Year of the War (4 Stars) and Secrets of a Charmed Life (3.5 Stars). Next up is The Shape of Mercy. In addition to being a prolific and talented writer, Meissner is a charming and gracious person whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at two author events: Here and Here. Readers can depend upon Susan Meissner for a well researched, solid, historical fiction read with no profanity, graphic violence, or explicit sexual content. She loves to create fictitious characters who might have lived at the time of an important historical event, so the history element of the story is based in facts and the characters are not biographical. In complete transparency, I chose not to read A Bridge Across the Ocean because it’s a ghost story and that’s not my preferred sub genre…but you may love it. *Edited (5/27/2021) to add that The Nature of Fragile Things is currently my favorite Meissner!
In your family, do you have a certain story or special item that has been passed down from generation to generation?
Themes: A Fall of Marigolds has quickly become a favorite of Meissner’s work. If you follow my reviews, you know that themes play an important part in my emotional connection to a story and in my final star rating. In A Fall of Marigolds, I love the strong themes including: living and loving again after a traumatic event, what we risk when we choose to love, hope for the future after a loss, destiny or God’s purpose in life, those in-between places, choosing love, the heartiness of marigolds, and the strength of survivors. This is one of those books that after reading the last page, I sighed and thought “That was a good story.” In part, it’s because the poignant themes are relatable. Most of us living in the U.S. probably remember how we felt on the day of 9/11 or we can relate to other tragedies in our lives.
Love comes from Heaven. It is given to us not to hold on to or hide from, but to give away.
Love is the only true constant in a fragile world.
Don’t despair. Be happy. Choose hope.
The freedom to love and be loved, though it shook you to your core, made life exquisite.
Characters: Although at first the characters seemed a bit unlikable, I could quickly imagine myself in their situation. Each survivor has a right to process grief and shock in their own way and in their own time. Both Clara and Taryn have grit and determination and bravely choose to love again. Many of us have probably made a similar deliberate choice to not live in fear, denial, or in that in-between place of neither risking nor loving.
Timelines: Most of the story is devoted to the 1911 timeline, which is interesting because I appreciate learning about the hospital at Ellis Island and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Meissner smoothly transitions between the events of the two timelines. The connection between the timelines happens near the end of the book and involves a beautiful and special scarf. Situations resolve nicely and conveniently at the end, nevertheless the closure is appreciated and the ending is heartwarming.
Recommended: A Fall of Marigolds is now on my list of frequently recommended books for readers who enjoy light historical fiction, for those who appreciate poignant and well-told stories with thoughtful themes, and for book clubs.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Meet the Author, Susan Meissner
Susan Meissner is the USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her novels include The Last Year of the War, a Library Reads and Real Simple top pick; As Bright as Heaven, which received a starred review from Library Journal; Secrets of a Charmed Life, a 2015 Goodreads Choice award finalist; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014. She is also RITA finalist and Christy Award and Carol Award winner. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.
Visit Susan at her website: http://susanmeissner.com and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner
Have you read books by Susan Meissner? Do you have a favorite?
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