Friday, February 7, 2014

Spotlight and Giveaway: A Fall of Marigolds

Today we're participating in a blog tour for a new novel by award-winning novelist Susan Meissner.
A Fall of Marigolds is part historical and part contemporary, set on Ellis Island in 1911 and in Manhattan a hundred years later. (Fans of Sarah Jio's novels will appreciate this!)

Thanks to Penguin (NAL), we have one copy for a lucky US reader! Make sure you read to the end of the post so that you can find out how to get in on a drawing for this book, as well as a fabulous gift basket that includes a $100 Visa gift card.

In 1911, nurse Clara Wood loses the man she loves to the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and her world is shattered. She seeks refuge from Manhattan on Ellis Island. There she comes across an embroidered scarf that encourages her to reevaluate previous assumptions and change her life.

Taryn Michaels lost her husband in the collapse of the World Trade Towers. In 2011, she thinks she’s living a full life as she raises her daughter alone without him. It isn’t until a photo surfaces, one that makes her relive the horrible day he died, that she confronts the truth she’s ignored all this time. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of fifteen books, including The Shape of Mercy, named one of the "100 Best Novels in 2008" by Publishers Weekly and the ECPA’s "Fiction Book of the Year." She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Susan is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She lives in San Diego with her husband and four grown children.

Visit Susan online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

The following was excerpted from a Q&A that Penguin did with Susan:

Susan, tell us where the idea for A Fall of Marigolds came from.
I’ve long been a history junkie, especially with regard to historical events that involve ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. A couple years ago I viewed a documentary by author and filmmaker Lorie Conway called Forgotten Ellis Island; a hauntingly poignant exposé on the section of Ellis Island no one really has heard much about; its hospital. The two man-made islands that make up the hospital buildings haven’t been used in decades and are falling into ruins, a sad predicament the documentary aptly addresses. The documentary’s images of the rooms where the sick of a hundred nations waited to be made well stayed with me. I knew there were a thousand stories pressed into those walls of immigrants who were just a stone’s throw from a new life in America. They were so close they could almost taste it. But unless they could be cured of whatever disease they’d arrived with, they would never set foot on her shores. Ellis Island hospital was the ultimate in-between place – it lay between what was and what could be. A great place to set a story.

What is the story about, in a nutshell?
The book is about two women who never meet as they are separated by a century. One woman, Taryn, is a 9/11 widow and single mother who is about to mark the tenth anniversary of her husband’s passing. The other is a nurse, Clara, who witnessed the tragic death of the man she loved in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in Manhattan in 1911.In her sorrow, Clara imposes on herself an exile of sorts; she takes a post at the hospital on Ellis Island so that she can hover in an in-between place while she wrestles with her grief. She meets an immigrant who wears the scarf of the wife he lost crossing the Atlantic, a scarf patterned in marigolds. The scarf becomes emblematic of the beauty and risk inherent in loving people, and it eventually finds it way to Taryn one hundred years later on the morning a plane crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The story is about the resiliency of love, and the notion that the weight of the world is made more bearable because of it, even though it exposes us to the risk of loss.

Why a scarf of marigolds? What is their significance?
Marigolds aren’t like most other flowers. They aren’t beautiful and fragrant. You don’t see them in bridal bouquets or prom corsages or funeral sprays. They don’t come in gentle colors like pink and lavender and baby blue. Marigolds are hearty, pungent and brassy. They are able to bloom in the autumn months, well past the point when many other flowers can’t. In that respect, I see marigolds as being symbolic of the strength of the human spirit to risk loving again after loss. Because, face it. We live in a messy world. Yet it’s the only one we’ve got. We either love here or we don’t. The title of the book has a sort of double-meaning. Both the historical and contemporary story take place primarily in the autumn. Secondarily, when Clara sees the scarf for the first time, dangling from an immigrant’s shoulders as he enters the hospital building, she sees the floral pattern in the threads, notes how similar they are to the flames she saw in the fire that changed everything for her, and she describes the cascading blooms woven into the scarf as “a fall of marigolds.”

What led you to dovetail the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 with 9/11?
When I first began pulling at story threads, my first instinct was to tell a story about an immigrant struggling to remain hopeful as an unwilling patient at Ellis Island hospital. But the more I toyed with whose story this was, the more I saw instead a young nurse, posting herself to a place where every disease known and unknown showed up. It was a place like no other; a waiting place – a place where the dozens of languages spoken added to the unnatural homelessness of it. Why was she here? Why did she choose this post? Why did she refuse to get on the ferry on Saturday nights to reconnect with the real world? What kind of person would send herself to Ellis not just to work, but to live? Someone who needed a place to hover suspended. I knew something catastrophic had to happen to her to make her run to Ellis for cover. As I began researching possible scenarios, I came across the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which up until 9/11 was arguably the worst urban disaster to befall Manhattan. There were similarities between that fire and 9/11, including the tragic fact that many trapped workers jumped to their deaths rather than perish in the flames. For every person lost in disasters such as these, there is always his or her individual story, and the stories of those who loved them. I wanted to imagine two of those stories.

Thanks to Penguin (NAL) for the opportunity to share this book with our readers!

As part of the release of A Fall of Marigolds and this blog tour, Susan is giving to one lucky US winner a gift basket that includes a $100 Visa gift card, a copy of the book, the DVD Forgotten Ellis Island, and a beautiful re-purposed infinity scarf patterned in marigolds and made from a vintage Indian sari. To be eligible, just leave a comment here by Friday, February 28th. If you would like to see a list of the other participating blogs on this tour, just click here. Feel free to visit those blogs and increase your chances of winning by posting a comment on those blogs as well. Only one comment per blog will be eligible.

Additionally, there will be one winner of a signed copy of A Fall of Marigolds from among those who comment on this blog (also US only). Just leave a comment by Wednesday, February 12th and you’re in the running for the grand prize as well as a signed copy of the book. No need to answer a question for this one. Just say whatever you want. Good luck!

Both giveaways are US only. 
Signed book giveaway ends February 12th at midnight EST.
Gift basket giveaway ends February 28th at midnight EST.

54 comments:

Janine said...

This sounds like an incredible story. Very powerful and emotional. I definitely HAVE to read this book.

Kinini01@hotmail.com

rhonda said...

This sounds like a perfect read for me.Thanks for giveaway lomazowr@gmail.com

Pattie said...

I finished this book yesterday and it's amazing. If I win the giveaway copy, I'll be giving it away to my sister. :)

Colleen Turner said...

Oh this sounds wonderful! I have read two other books by this author and love the way she blends her contemporary storylines with history. Fingers crossed I win :).

candc320@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

What a great read!

Anonymous said...

I would love to read this.
melinda.garza15@yahoo.com

Kimberly Tuten said...

I love Susan Meissner's books so I know this will be another great read! Thanks for the giveaway!
kimtuten2001@gmail.com

Teia Collier said...

I love stories that move some thing inside you.

Looking forward to it.

Cheryl Barker said...

Would love to read Susan's newest. Thanks for the chance to win!

ckbarker at gmail dot com

S.Sabia said...

I love books like this!

sfsabiaATgmailDOTcom

Connie said...

I've enjoyed Susan's books before and this one sounds like it will tell a spellbinding story that a reader cannot put down. Would love to be a winner.

Thanks for the great giveaway.

Connie said...

As usual, I always forget to add my email to the comment above.

Connie Fischer
conniecape@aol.com

Bonnie K. said...

What a beautiful scarf--love the colors. The book sounds wonderful and the gift basket is awesome.

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

SummerG said...

This looks like a book that I would love! I love historical fiction. On my To read list now! Thanks!

sumsum085@aol.com

Jennifer Huelsebusch said...

Love to find "new to me" authors!

Jhuelsebusch@sbcglobal.net

Carl Scott said...

What a wonderfully generous prize and such a great-sounding book to. Really, I'd be happy with either. Many thanks. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

Anita Yancey said...

It sounds like a fantastic book. I love the storyline, and would really enjoy reading it. Thanks for having the giveaway.

ayancey1974(at)gmail(dot)com

Lori Weller said...

This sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.
ldwrncpn@comcast.net

Carol Fragale Brill said...

This sounds like a beautiful story and a skillfully inter-woven plot. Thanks for the giveaway chance. best, carol

Carol Fragale Brill said...

p.s. my email is flamingobrill@comcast.net

bn100 said...

Interesting info about the marigolds

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Michelle James said...

This sounds like an incredibly interesting story. 1. Marigolds have always been a favorite of mine, because they survive the hottest draught and even the cooler summers. They add a bright spot to any landscape, while chasing away the mosquitos. 2. Ellis Island has a personal link to so many people, and most are unaware of it. It has limitless stories to be told. 3. I love a good story with historical background. 4. I'm always looking for books by authors I haven't read before.
michj0447@gmail.com

Polly Schneider said...

I would love to read this book. It sounds fascinating. My daughter would love it too, she is interested in anything to do with New York and it's history.

pascale said...

This book sounds wonderful and emotional. On my list.
pascale.poitras@verizon.net

Allison Smith said...

I LOVE the title of this book!
allieATthelatchkeymomDOTcom

susieqlaw said...

I would love to read this story.

sendsusanmail at gmail dot com

jpetroroy said...

Sounds lovely!
Jpetroroy at gmail dot com

Nova said...

Would love to read this! love the title and the story sounds so interesting.
sparkle40175 AT hotmail DOT com

Rita said...

Sounds like a wonderful book.

Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!
SuzyQ4PR(at)aol(dot)com

Melissa said...

Thanks for participating! Even if you didn't win today, your comment qualifies you for the gift basket giveaway later this month!

Thanks to Penguin for sharing the book with our winner!

Random.org chose one winner from all entries with contact info (one entry per person).

Congrats to Nova!

Mocha with Linda said...

This is an incredible novel - Susan's best yet! And the big giveaway is fantastic!

Julie Valerie said...

Hey there Melissa Amster and Susan Meissner! I'm not trying to win the prize package - let it go to a reader. I'm just hopping along Susan's Blog Tour enjoying all the terrific blogs. I'm hosting Susan today for Valentine's Day and thought I'd pop in and say a quick hello. Hello!

Lane Hill House said...

My very absolute favorite is the two-Jane story and Lucy should have a follow-up! She was sturdy-steady and a dear friend in Lady in Waiting. My ancestors came through Ellis Island. I am second-generation American born. I would love to win A Fall of Marigolds and your prize basket gifts! Thank you. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

Andrea said...

Ellis Island has always fascinated me. Can't wait to read this.

andrea2russia@hotmail.com

Connie said...

I love history and really want to read this book!!
Connie
cps1950 at gmail dot com

Susan Johnson said...

This sounds like a great book. I would love to read this story.
susanmsj at msn dot com

Erica said...

Love the book's premise. Hope I win!!

wordywon at gmail dot com

Prayer of Hope said...

this is so amazing!

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance!

mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews @ gmail.com

Susan said...

Would love to win. Thanks for chance.

Karla Akins said...

Definitely going to read this one! Sounds amazing. What a unique premise.

rubynreba said...

I plant marigolds every year and they are always blooming long after the others have faded away! I think this sounds like a really good book and would love to read it!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Sarah Stewart said...

Hoping to win. Sounds great!

Carol L. said...

I love History and the whole storyline in A Fall Of Marigolds.Thanks for participating in the tour and the chance to win.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Emily Lombardi said...

This is the next book I will be reading!

angela smith said...

sounds good thanks for the chance

Erica said...

Such a beautiful book cover.

wordywon@gmail dot com

Emma said...

Thanks for the giveaway!A Fall of Marigolds"sounds wonderful.Thank you for the opportunity to win.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Have a wonderful weekend.

Jeryl M. said...

Sounds like a good book.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Britney Adams said...

Thank you so much for the opportunity to win this fabulous giveaway! I can't wait to read this special story!!

texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

Bridget O'Neill said...

Sounds like a great book! I love Sarah Jio's books, so I know I'd love this one!

bjoneill@hotmail.com

Debbie G. said...

Thanks for the chance to win! I would love to read this book, it sounds so very good.

debbie(underscore)griffith(at)hotmail(dot)com

Hailey Fish said...

Amazing giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity! :)

fishiegirl22@yahoo.com