The Daisy Children

Written by Sofia Grant
Review by Tom Vallar

Cousins Katie Garrett and Scarlett Ragsdale cannot be more different even though they were born just miles apart in East Texas. Katie is settled in Boston as a designer, and Scarlett is still the wild child in New London. What unites them is the death of their mutual grandmother – in Katie’s case, her estranged grandmother, because she only met her once due to a rift between her own mother and her grandmother years earlier. Katie and Scarlett learn, once the will is read, that they will both inherit something but only after spending a week going through the old house; Margaret remains secretive even after her death.

Margaret’s story is told in flashbacks alternating with the current events. It is the poignant story of a girl born nine months after the horrific explosion that took nearly 300 lives at the New London Elementary School in 1937. She is among the spate of pregnancies that produced replacements for those lost in the tragedy, termed “daisy children.” As Margaret’s narrative discloses clues to the reader, Katie and Scarlett must uncover the bits and pieces of her secrets as best they can.

As a Texan I know the story of the school explosion as the incident that required natural gas to have an odor so that its buildup would no longer surprise the unwary. As a mystery buff I followed this story to its conclusion, and the characters both past and present are well-drawn by a skilled writer. This is not historical fiction in the traditional sense: the chapters in the present show her former persona as “Sophie Littlefield” and border on “chick lit.” Nevertheless, the research into the past and the illustration of fashion and other trends through the decades make the book relevant to fans of 20th-century historical mysteries.