Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Fall of Marigolds

This novel by Susan Meissner tells the joy of love, the heartache of losing that love and questions - would we forego love entirely in order to never again feel heartache? It also explores the wisdom of an  "in-between" place; a space safe for a time, allowing you to catch your breath, regroup; but not only a time, you're not meant to live there the rest of your life. Meissner's books often meld a historical story with a modern one using some tangible object to connect the two. In this case, the tangible object is a vibrant scarf patterned with marigolds. The historical story (which is most of the book) follows nurse Clara Wood beginning September 1911 in her chosen in-between place, the hospital on Ellis Island. She has worked and lived there since the man she loved met his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then she meets a patient whose own loss mirrors hers and notices the name embroidered on the scarf he carries. This, in turn, leads her to an ethical dilemma and a freeing choice. The modern story hinges on Taryn Michaels in September 2011. She works at a specialty fabric store in Manhattan, raising her daughter alone. Then a "lost" photograph is printed in a national magazine, and Taryn is forced to relive the day she became a widow, when her husband died in the fall of the World Trade Center Towers. The day a stranger and a century old scarf saved her own life. And a chance reconnection makes Taryn think perhaps she has been in her own in-between place too long.

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