Review: A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
Published February 4th 2014 by NAL Trade
Review copy received from the publisher
Part historical, part contemporary novel about two women having lost their loved ones trying to find out how to live on.
A Fall of Marigolds is a dual narrative between two women, with the emphasis on the story of Clara in 1911. The two stories are loosely linked through a physical object, a scarf. Clara lost her crush of two weeks in a fire, and is left to wonder what would have been if he hadn’t died. Taryn lost her husband in the Twin Towers and has never told her daughter of what happened that day.
Meissner has a nicely flowing style that was easy to get into. She is one of those authors that focusses on the character instead of the setting when writing historical. Some historical novels can be bogged down when the author wants to put in all the research they did, but Ms Meissner handles the details pretty well. The historical part of the book is set at Ellis island, where immigrants on their way to America would all have to have their health checked. Reading about life on the island, although never fully focussed on, was interesting. It was clear that the author had a personal affinity with the subject.
I enjoyed the way love in A Fall of Marigolds wasn’t the same uncomplicated affair as so many romances make it out to be. Sometimes you can feel attraction to someone for a short amount of time, and lose it after that. Sometimes you fall head over heels for someone in just two weeks. A few of the overrepresented tropes were avoided, and I’m quite happy with how all the threads worked out.
Because this is a book about two disasters, the book was too heavy for me, especially towards the end. The two heroines start asking themselves the questions “was I meant to do this?” “was this meant to happen” and other variations of the same thing. Maybe it’s because I never ask myself that question, but this part of the story irked me, and made me want to stop reading. A Fall of Marigolds was a breeze until it got too dark and I just lost interest in the bottomless pits that open up when you start asking yourself the question “is anything ever meant to be?”.
A Fall of Marigolds is a good book, a book that will move readers and that will make you curious to early 20th century Manhattan.
A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….
September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?
September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?
- Review: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen (2.5 Stars)
- Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (4 Stars)
- Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan (3 Stars)
- Reading Classics: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (3 Stars)