Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Susan Meissner's A Fall of Marigolds ~ Reviewed

A Fall of Marigolds
by Susan Meissner 
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (February 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 045141991X


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?


I haven't read Susan Meissner in a while. Every time I pick up one of her books I'm instantly into transported to wherever she sends me. A Fall of Marigolds is no exception. Meissner expertly weaves an epic story that centers around a fragile connection that changes the lives of the women who touch it. 

Set in September 1911 and September 2011, two women, Clara and Taryn struggle with tremendous loss and the horror of witnessing tragedies. One scarf, splashed with vibrant, yellow marigolds and the embroidered name Lily, ties the two women together. Both women have to come to terms with their lost loves after discovering the healing that comes through time, the care of others and simple truth that hope can overcome the worst horror. 

The loss and terror from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire sends Clara to an in-between island hideaway teeming with lost and hurting souls who get detained by disease as they attempt to enter their dreams of America's freedoms. Taryn hides in a muffled nest filled with beauty and fabrics and a secret shame that she was the reason her husband died during the terror strike on the World Trade Towers. 

The colors of the scarf demands the attention of each woman, a century apart, and pulls her into a story much bigger than herself. As the women change and begin to come to terms the healing that need to take place the memories of the fires, explosions and loss turn to memories of peace and hope grows. 

A Fall of Marigolds isn't an easy read, I teared up several times and had to set the book down to escape some of the intensity. But it's a beautiful tapestry of human need and longing, of horror and hope, of ashes turning into beauty. Meissner is an artist, the prose alone is haunting and beautiful, add realistic characters and the power of the story and this becomes a must read novel. I highly recommend it. Marigolds will linger a very long time in my memory and I don't think I'll wait quite as long to pick up the next Meissner novel. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer


Ane Mulligan said...

Kelly, this is a wonderful review. I love Susan's books but somehow missed this one. Thank you for this, I'll go get it, and I'll remember what you said about taking a break from the intensity. :)

Kelly Klepfer said...

You def need to get this one, Ane. Powerful storytelling. You don't need your chicken meter, just the box of tissues. HaHa

Ane Mulligan said...

I'm on my way to Amazon now. Thanks, Kelly! Now where did I put my hankie?