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Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Newest Meissner Historical Another Immersive, Absorbing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

An Irish immigrant, Sophie Whalen will do anything to get out of New York City, where she lives in squalor in a crowded tenement building.  She's even willing to move to far away San Francisco and marry a man she's never met.  A handsome widower, Martin Hocking desires a living wife to give him a proper family man appearance in order to better sell insurance.  His 5-year-old also needs a mother.  Sophie steps in, figuring love or at least a warm friendship will eventually grow between her and her enigmatic new husband.  Even though she's more interested in being a mom than anything else, Sophie's still confused by Martin's cool treatment of her.  He's gone all the time, shows no desire for her physically, ignores his own daughter, and is always vague about his work.  It's becoming increasingly obvious that Martin is hiding something, but what?  

On the eve of the great earthquake that will bring San Francisco to its knees, Sophie receives a shocking visit from a stranger.  The young pregnant woman bears more questions than answers, but it's enough to make Sophie desperate to get them all away before Martin returns home.  When the unthinkable happens, she finds herself on the run in a crumbling city with a laboring mother and a terrified child.  With chaos and destruction all around them, can the trio find safety from the earthquake, its devastating aftermath, and the terrible secret that binds them together?  Will Sophie ever triumph in her ongoing quest for security, happiness, and love? 

I'm a fan of historical fiction, disaster novels, and Susan Meissner, a tantalizing trifecta that comes together perfectly in The Nature of Fragile Things, the author's newest offering.  I buzzed through this book in a day because it tells such a compelling, engrossing story.  Even though the novel really isn't about the San Francisco earthquake, the disaster makes an intriguing, dramatic backdrop for this tale about a woman's plight to forge ahead despite her devastating past and uncertain future.  Sophie is a sympathetic heroine, one who's brave, loyal, and determined.  It's easy to root for her survival and success.  What she discovers about her husband is not what I expected, but it creates a tense, suspenseful plot that kept me burning through the pages.  The Nature of Fragile Things is an absorbing read that reminds me why I enjoy Meissner's work so much.  I can't wait to see what she does next.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain and of Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan Henry)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Nature of Fragile Things from the generous folks at Penguin Random House via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

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