Thursday 6 August 2015

Book ~ "A Fall of Marigolds" (2014) Susan Meissner

From Goodreads ~ 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? 

Clara is a nurse in New York City.  In August 1911, she has fallen in love with Edward, who works in the same building she does.  There is a fire in the building ... Clara is able to escape but Edward dies.  Grieving, Clara gets a job on Ellis Island, taking care of the sick immigrants as they arrived off the boats, never leaving the island.  She gets attached to one immigrant named Andrew from England, who has scarlet fever.  He is newly married and his wife, Lily, had died of scarlet fever on the journey.  The only thing he has left of Lily's is a marigold scarf.  But Clara also finds something from Lily that left for Andrew that will break his heart ... Clara has to decide whether Andrew should know the truth or not.

In September 2001, Taryn was rushing to meet her husband for breakfast to surprise him with the news that she was pregnant.  She got delayed meeting with a elderly client who wanted to find a match to her marigold scarf that had been given to her by her aunt.  The 9/11 attacks happened and Taryn's husband was killed.  Had Taryn not been delayed, she would have been killed also.  Ten years later, she is raising their daughter alone and will have to deal with the tenth anniversary remembrances of the attacks.

This is the first book I've read by this author and for the most part I liked it.  It was an interesting story combined with real events.  I liked the writing style.  It is written in first person perspective in Clara and Taryn's voices (it's obvious whose voice it is as the chapters are labeled).  The story lines bounced back and forth and I was okay with that.

Both women were grieving because of lost loves and doing what they could to survive.  I found Taryn's story was more realistic, though.  She and Kent had been married for a few years and trying to have a baby.  Clara had met Edward in an elevator a couple weeks before the fire and they'd chatted.  They'd never seen each other for more than a few minutes every day and had never gone on a date ... yet Clara loved him and felt sure that he loved her.  Seriously?!  And their lost love was what drove her to the seclusion of Ellis Island to grieve.  Even though it was 1911 and times were different, I wasn't buying it.  She never went out with her friends (who sounded fun) and I think she would have been a drag to be around.

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