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book review and giveaway: “a fall of marigolds”

A Fall of MarigoldsAs I get older, I seem to be drawn to historical fiction, appreciating more than ever the importance of passing down stories from one generation to the next.

Susan Meissner’s new novel, A Fall of Marigolds, seamlessly blends the past and the present in a compelling and beautifully-told tale about a flowery scarf that ends up connecting two of New York City’s most tragic events: the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 and the attack on the World Trade Center almost a century later.

The novel tells dual stories of two women struggling with loss. The characters are likeable and easy to relate to, and I quietly rooted for them throughout their grieving processes and their efforts to make peace with their painful pasts.

Clara Wood is a nurse on Ellis Island, where she is biding her time, numb, after surviving the fire which took the life of the man she was sure she would marry. As she cares for a patient whose wife died of scarlet fever while crossing the ocean, she is forced to make a difficult ethical decision which will ultimately change the course of many people’s lives, including her own. I spent so much time thinking about what I would do in her situation that I started reading faster and faster. I hope you’ll read this book soon because I’m curious to see what you would do, too!

In 2011, Taryn Michaels is still reeling from the death of her husband on September 11. She’s caring for her daughter and working at a high-end fabric store, when a photo surfaces that rocks her world and brings her back to that devastating day.

Although we meet Clara and Taryn at their most fragile, it is empowering to watch them get stronger and triumph. Both stories are raw and emotional, but Clara’s is the one that has me lying in bed at night, debating with myself. Because her decisions end up impacting Taryn’s life so many years later, her chapters are somewhat richer and more complex. They’re also fascinating in capturing a period of time when so many people risked their lives and came to America, full of hope and dreams.

“Everything beautiful has a story it wants to tell,” reads the motto of Taryn’s store.

Meissner has woven her own rich yarns into a beautiful piece of art which tells a story about the fabric of our lives that’s as warm and enveloping as the scarf at the heart of it all.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of A Fall of Marigolds. Winner will be selected at random on February 11 at midnight Pacific time. Prize can only be sent to a U.S. mailing address.



  1. Have you read Triangle, by Katharine Weber? It’s also historical fiction, about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Powerful writing indeed!

    This one looks great also. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I would love to read a copy of this–and I’m giving away books, too, today. Glad to enter and hope I win!

  3. This novel sounds intriguing. Would love to read and thanks for sharing!

  4. After reading your thoughts I want to really read this! I’m going to add this to my wishlist!

  5. This line alone: “Everything beautiful has a story it wants to tell,” reads the motto of Taryn’s store. Has me ready to turn the pages. As always…lovely review.

  6. I have been looking for a book to get lost in, this sounds like a great read. Thanks for an enlightening review!

  7. Oh, wow. This sounds heartbreaking and lovely and like exactly what I need. Great review. I’d be delighted to win. Thank you!

  8. This book sounds perfect for me thanks for giveaway

  9. This sounds like an intriguing read. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in her stories. Thanks for the suggestion.

  10. This sounds like a book I’d love. Thanks for your review. Adding it to the list.

  11. Your review made me want to add this book to the ever growing list.
    Thank you for sharing.

  12. Carolyn Blumenthal says:

    This book sounds very interesting. Would love to read it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Hailey Fish says:

    I’d love to win! That would be so awesome!

  14. fran pillersdorf says:

    Sounds like a great book!!
    Reading Stella Bain now it is really enjoyable historical fiction – want to finish but I have to work for a couple of hours

  15. Diane Ziegler says:

    I, like you, have fallen in love with historical fiction as I have gotten older. I love revisiting topics I didn’t pay attention to in school.

  16. Sounds like a great book. Count me in!

  17. This sounds like a fantastic read!

    I’m glad to see you’re getting back into reading. When you’re ready, come on over and join our book club.

    Substance of Living

  18. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    This sounds SO good. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy has always touched me deeply (I read Triangle, a very compelling read). Since my grandmother lived on the Lower East Side during that time, I have always wondered how she was affected, if she knew anyone there, etc. Can’t wait to read this.

  19. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for the review. Would love to read it.

  20. Betty Hengemuehler says:

    Would love to read this book. Just mailed $50 check for two boxes of books. Any books received that are duplicates of my current collection will be donated to a library or nursing home.

  21. Betsy Pauzauskie says:

    I’ve found myself drawn to historical fiction more with age as well. Based upon your review, A Fall of Marigolds sounds as though it would touch my heart. Thank you for such a thoughtful and generous giveaway!

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