Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
I wouldn’t normally pick up a book like this but it is a book club selection so I didn’t really have a choice. It was a fast read which is probably the biggest positive for me. The story itself is mostly about Clara, a young woman in 1911 who escapes the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in NYC. Unfortunately, a young man named Edward that she meets only 2 weeks prior to the fire does not. She spends the rest of the book pining over him, which causes the reader to want to shake her and tell her to get on with her life. Clara , suffering from PTSD or its 1911 equivalent, escapes to Ellis Island where she nurses immigrants too sick to be allowed on shore. She meets Andrew, a young man whose wife of 2 weeks died on the voyage to America and Ethan, a Doctor on the Island and they both slowly become part of her life. She can’t decide what her feelings are for either in a frustrating ride for the reader (refer back to pining for Edward).
Occasionally interspersed with Clara’s story is that of Taryn who is in the present and lost her husband on 9/11. It seems like every book I read these days goes back and forth in time and between characters. The technique must be taught in every creative writing class in the country. In the best books, it works but in an average book like this, it is tiresome. Last week I actually read a book where every chapter was in chronological order. It was heaven but I digress. Let’s get back to Taryn who has never recovered emotionally from the loss of her husband Kent and Clara still mourning Edward. Connecting both women’s stories is a scarf with marigolds on it that originally belonged to Andrew’s wife Lily and ultimately ends up with Taryn. She loses the scarf during the chaos of 9/11 but ultimately it comes back to her along with the man who rescued her. The scarf represents love lost and found again I guess as in the end everyone lives happily ever after. The stories are very lightweight, predictable and contrived. If you are looking for a slightly romantic novel (there is a lot of holding men at bay in this book) that you can read quickly without thinking too hard then this might be the novel for you. If not, feel free to skip it.