Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: A Fall of Marigolds

By Amy Bromberg

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance re-connection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Ever since I read Sarah Jio’s debut, The Violets of March, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed historical fiction and blending together two different stories from two different time periods, where both heroines have a bond. This is exactly what Susan does in A Fall of Marigolds. Having in common a special scarf that has stood the test of time, Clara witnesses a horrible fire in Manhattan in 1911, and Taryn witnesses 9/11 and experiences the aftermath.

Clara's story took me on an emotional roller coaster. I was transported into a world that of course I know nothing about, except some reading and studying in school. Isn’t this what books are all about, though? At least one of many, right? I felt like I was right along side Clara from the beginning till the end, hugging her through (or during) the sad times and and cheering her on during the good times.

While I enjoyed the story overall, there was one thing that didn’t work so well for me. The summary made me believe that the story would have an equal focus on both Clara and Taryn. The majority of the book is Clara’s story. I wish it was half and a half. Many chapters went by that were just Clara’s story, not Taryn’s.

This story explores feelings of grief, hope, love, loss and healing. It also reminds us that in life we need to learn how to let things go in order to find clarification, peace and purpose. If you’re part of a book club and looking for your next pick, I highly recommend this novel.There’s a great lengthy discussion guide. Make sure you have some tissues handy.

Thanks to Penguin for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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