A Fall of Marigolds
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. What she learns could 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. But a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf may open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life.
“[Meissner] creates two sympathetic, relatable characters that readers will applaud. Touching and inspirational.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise For A Fall of Marigolds…
“Weaves a compelling tapestry of past and present, of love and loss and learning to love again, of two women connected through time in a rich and unique way.”—Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
“Like the golden threads of a scarf sprinkled with marigolds, Susan Meissner weaves two unspeakable New York tragedies—the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and 9/11—into a shimmering novel of love and acceptance. Meissner’s heroines, Clara and Taryn, live a century apart, but their stories are connected not just by a bright scrap of fabric but by love lost. A compelling novel, A Fall of Marigolds turns fate into a triumph of spirit.”—Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of True Sisters
“Meissner has crafted a thoughtful story about lost loves and times past, illustrating how quickly disaster can take away what we hold most dear, and how ultimately we must move forward with hope in our hearts.”—Margaret Dilloway, bestselling author of The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns
“A transportive, heartwarming, and fascinating novel that will resonate with readers in search of emotionally satisfying stories connecting past and present, and demonstrating the healing power of love.”—Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Call Me Zelda
“Susan Meissner knits the past and the present with the seamless skill of a master storyteller. A beautifully written, moving novel that had me gripped from the first page.”—Kate Kerrigan, New York Times bestselling author of Ellis Island
“Deftly weaves a story of love and loss... an inspiring story of hope and the belief that with tomorrow comes a new day full of promise.”—Lorie Conway, author/producer of “Forgotten Ellis Island”
“Susan Meissner has written a courageous novel, moving with great insight between the haunting parallel stories of two women trying to recover from the losses of a terrible fire in 1911 New York City and the unforgettable fall of the twin towers on 9/11. An uncommon celebration of the human spirit in the face of unspeakable tragedy, A Fall of Marigolds is a beautiful reminder that although life is perilous, love is a powerful healer.”—Kimberly Brock, 2013 Georgia Author of the Year and author of The River Witch
Berkley, 9780451419910, 400pp.
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
What did you most enjoy about A Fall of Marigolds? What do you think you’ll remember about it six months from now?
Discuss the ways in which the contemporary and historical sections of the novel relate to each other. What story elements do they share? How do they echo and amplify each other? Did you enjoy going back and forth between the two narratives, or did you much prefer one over the other?
When Clara Wood finds Lily’s letter to Andrew and the certificate of annulment, she faces an ethical dilemma—should she tell Andrew the truth about the woman he loved and break his heart, or leave him in ignorance? What would be the most ethical choice? What would you have done?
Have you ever gone to, or wanted to go to, an “in-between place”? Would you share that experience?
Despite the little interaction they had, Clara is convinced that Edward would have become her lover and eventually her husband. Have you ever experienced a similar certainty about someone after just meeting them?
Ten years after her husband’s death, Taryn seems to be living a full life, but once her photo is published, she begins to realize that she has also been in an “in-between place.” How has she been held back? How are her circumstances similar to and different from Clara’s?
Discuss the role of the marigold scarf in the story. Trace its path from Lily to Taryn. How does the scarf enrich the experience of the characters? Would you react to the scarf in the same way that the characters do?
Andrew plays a key role in Clara’s life. Is it okay with you that she doesn’t end up in a romantic relationship with him? Does Ethan seem a better or worse choice to you? The book ends with Taryn and Mick heading toward a romantic relationship. Do you find that believable and satisfying?
Taryn and Clara each experience a horrific tragic event in which someone they love dies. Have you ever been personally touched by tragedy? Would you be willing to share how your experience compares to what Taryn and Clara go through?
Do you believe in destiny? That God has a purpose for each of our lives? Discuss how these ideas play out in A Fall of Marigolds.