By: Susan Meissner
Published: February 4, 2014
So many of the books I have read lately take a story from the past and merge it with the present. I have loved how it was done in other novels like ORPHAN TRAIN, THE STORYTELLER, and CALLING ME HOME and this one didn't disappoint either. When merging stories from the past with the present, there has to be a believable and compelling connection. In A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, that piece was a scartf as well as the feelings of love and loss . We are first introduced to Taryn, a widow of 9/11 and now a single mother. She has never been able to forgive herself for her husband's death in the North Tower. She has tried to move on with her life by focusing on her job in a fabric store as well as raising her daughter, but ten years later a photo of her on the street on 9/11 resurfaces and forces her to relive everything all over again.
In 1911, there was a terrible fire in Manhattan called the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Clara watched in horror as her friends perished or jumped to end their life. Clara, after living only two weeks in Manhattan flees to Ellis Island to immerse herself in the hospitals there. As a nurse, she is subjected to healing those who came to America in hope of a better life. While caring for a patient, she is intrigued with his loss, so similar to hers and to his deceased wife's scarf. The scarf will forever change her feelings about love, loss and taking risks.
Taryn and Clara's stories grabbed me at the very beginning and I had a difficult time putting this book down. I thought about them as I went about my day and they even crept into my dreams at night. The writing was expertly done in a way to put you right into the setting whether it was the year 1911 or 2001. The emotions, the sites, and the people were all so descriptive that I was feeling their sadness, grief, and pain right along with them. The most emotional part from me was Taryn's experience from 9/11. I will never know the true horror that occurred that day, but I will never forget how I felt watching it. Meissner's writing of Taryn finding out her husband wasn't going to make it and being near the towers as they collapsed will be part of my memory for a long time.
Both characters were suffering from extreme grief and at times the novel was burdened by the weight of sadness. These pieces were critical to the story and I can imagine could be difficult for some to read if they too have suffered from a loss. This would be my only caution about the novel, otherwise, I highly recommend it. The surprising connection these two women have, a hundred years apart, their grief and eventual recovery, and the hope of a brighter future will move you forward through the emotional pieces of this story. It is a story you won't soon forget.
This would make an excellent choice for book clubs. There are discussion questions included in the book. Since the story includes a major ethical dilemma, I can see an intense discussion held on that topic alone. A novel that can put you in the story and make you question your own actions if you were in that situation makes the story even more real in your mind. In both Taryn and Clara's lives there are a number of "What If" situations that the reader will certainly identify with as well.
Susan Meissner will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Save the Ellis Island Foundation for the restoration of the hospital buildings on Islands Two and Three. You can learn more about this project at http://saveellisisland.org/.
|Susan Meissner - source|
She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.
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