A Fall of Marigolds
Clara Wood and Taryn Michaels are both survivors, the former of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the latter of the September 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attack. Clara believes that the man she was falling in love with would not have died were it not for her, and Taryn believes her husband would not have been on the “wrong” floor of one of the Towers if not for her text and phone message from earlier on that infamous morning. Each carries a heavy burden of mind-numbing grief that holds them back from fully stepping into the future. In the interim, Clara Wood settles on Ellis Island, serving as a nurse to newly arrived immigrants who are ill, most of them with the viciously corrosive disease of scarlet fever. Taryn continues her work with textile colors and fabrics and yet needs to solve a mystery. The history of both women is tied to a vividly gorgeous scarf that connects them and may eventually heal more than words can express.
The novel’s plot may seem simple but soon becomes quite complex, assisted by male characters whose gentle personalities belie the fierceness of their grief and love. Susan Meissner is talented in the way she depicts the horror of Clara and Taryn’s memories without leaving readers overwhelmed. She writes gently yet firmly about their transformations from “wounded warriors” to women who will eventually experience the zest of life once again, accompanied by a deep compassion for others who have suffered rejection, grief, and the paralysis of having lived through such devastating circumstances. This is a highly recommended, sensitive, beautiful and awesome novel from a very skilled writer!