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 reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?
*blurb taken from Goodreads*
A Fall of Marigolds is a story about love, and loss, and living with the aftermath of both. It’s also the story of two women in completely different eras, linked by a beautiful scarf and the circumstances that they share; grief and an inability to cope after witnessing and experiencing deadly disaster and incredible tragedy.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 was the deadliest disaster in New York City history until the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It’s these two events that link Clara in 1911 and Taryn in 2011. They each lost someone they loved in a great disaster, and they both witnessed the events.
Clara was a nurse in the same building as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, but her clinic was on a lower floor. She watched, helpless, from the street as the man she was beginning to love jumped to his death rather than wait for the flames to consume him.
Taryn works for a quilting and fabric store in 2001, and still in 2011 when the story takes place. She stood helpless on the street outside the World Trade Centers, watching the tower where her husband worked collapse and fall.
The stories are parallel, both women blame themselves, feeling that their actions caused their loved ones to be in the wrong place, the wrong part of each building, at just the wrong time.
Both retreat from life into “in between” places, both physically and in their hearts.
Taryn’s 21st century life serves as a framing story, while Clara’s retreat takes her to a place where she can be useful but live outside normality, and live outside of the city that stole so much from her.
Clara becomes a nurse in the Immigration Center on Ellis Island, where she watches as others emerge from their ships, leave from the sick wards where she serves, and where they slough off the diseases they carried with them, and move on to the city, and into their new lives.
Clara can’t put her past behind her, until she takes up the cause of an immigrant who has suffered the same kind of loss that she has; the loss of a love that did not have time to flourish.
Taryn is unable to move forward with her life, until a forgotten photograph reunites her with the man who saved her life.
The way that Clara’s and Taryn’s stories weave in and out of each other is marvelous; but it is Clara’s experience of life on Ellis Island that amazes the reader. Stories about people, about grandparents and great-grandparents who passed through on their way to a new life, that give Clara’s portrait of the Immigrant Inspection Station at its bustling heyday a definite poignancy. She sees other people move on with their lives, she’s even in a place designed for others to move on with their lives, and she is stuck. She’s caught in the land of “might have been” and can’t move forward into her own “now” until she takes charge of a patient who shares the same kind of grief.
This is not really a romance; and it shouldn’t be. The story is about getting caught in the trap of dreaming about what might have happened, and losing sight of what is happening around you. It takes a jarring incident for each woman to unstick herself and be ready to find love again.
I give A Fall of Marigolds an A–
*Thanks to the terrific folks at Penguin/NAL, we have one copy of A Fall of Marigolds to giveaway today. This contest is open to US only and will end on February 26. To enter, let us know your favorite time period for historical fiction/romance. Good Luck!!*