Monday, September 15, 2014


Title: A Fall of Marigolds
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


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?


A tale of two women who need to move past the tragedies in their lives, A Fall of Marigolds is a gripping, heartwarming story. Both Clara Wood in 1911 and Taryn Michaels in 2011, are in an in-between place to try and escape the devastating reality of the death of loved ones. Both women experience challenges that pull them out of their in-between comfort zone and force them to move on. One unique marigold patterned scarf plays a significant role in both cases.

Not really the kind of book that would top my to-be-read list; now after reading it, it is going on my list of favorite reads of 2014. There are many similarities in the stories of Clara and Taryn. Both were to meet their loved ones close to where the eventual tragedies occurred and neither could move on afterwards, choosing to hide in an in-between world for a time. For Clara it was six months working in the Ellis Island hospital, and for Taryn, a job and home in the quiet depth of the Heirloom Yard.

The well developed, lifelike main characters, Clara and Taryn, grow throughout the story. As the author dedicates more pages to Clara's narrative, her personality stands out. Tenderhearted, yet often quite stubborn, Clara has a tendency to tie herself to people for the wrong reasons while rejecting others who truly have honest intentions. Despite her often prickly personality, however, her best friend as well as her aspiring suitor won't give up on her.

This book is not without its share of action. Clara's story takes a suspenseful twist that certainly had me on the edge of my chair for a while. The touches of mature romance are tastefully presented and do not dominate the story at all.

Even the dialogue alternates from the slightly formal style of the early twentieth century to the more relaxed, casual style of the twenty first century.

Truly a five-star read, A Fall of Marigolds is a story that deals with the what-ifs in life. It is an uplifting tale of hope, acceptance of the past, and moving on to the future.


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Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses. Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

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 her family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

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