When I picked up this book as the latest read for my local book club, I was immediately filled with a sense of dread. Called “A Fall of Marigolds.” Pretty flowers on the cover. About a scarf? Oof. This did not sound like I was the target audience, and I steeled myself for yet another book club meeting where I would give a low rating and sound like a cranky cynic. I don’t know if it is because I went in with low expectations, but I was positively stunned to discover that I liked this book. I really liked this book! And yes, it was at times predictable, and definitely too serendipitous. But I didn’t care. I shed a tear, people! My book club members were also surprised by the praise I raised down upon it, and though I agreed with their inputs that it was a bit of fluff, a bit of Lifetime TV in book form, I stood firm in my adoration.
Clara is a nurse at the turn of the century on Ellis Island. A missed connection and the tragic Shirtwaist Triangle fire has left her stuck on the island, unable to grieve, unable to move forward with her life. In present day, a woman who has lost her husband during 9/11 is started to find herself, on the anniversary of this tragic, in the public eye as a picture of her, clutching a floral scarf as she tried to make her way to safety, is on the cover of news magazines. And this same scarf has a connection back to Clara, and to her on tale of tragedy and love lost.
The reviews were mixed from my book club, though rankings overall were low. What we did agree on was that Meissner did a great job choosing a piece of history, the Shirtwaist Triangle fire, and immigration in 1911 via Ellis Island, and really brought that time period to life. To contrast, she didn’t do as good of a job flushing out the story line of present day, so you were left with a bit of an uneven read, but I found it compelling and heartfelt.
Totally out of character for me, but I found it delightful and hopeful, and I will be recommending it to many. If you are looking to learn a little, and have a quick pick-me-up sort of read, than this is the book for you.