A Fall Of Marigolds chronicled the life of two women one hundred years apart who both tried to move on after the man they love died. In 1911, Clara lost herself in her job as a nurse on Ellis Island after her beau died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. In 2011, Taryn, focused on her daughter to move past losing her husband Kent in the 9/11 attacks. Both women were connected by a mysterious wool scarf decorated with marigolds. To be honest, the scarf was referenced a few too many times for me and was a little goofy as a literal symbol of hope, but Meissner did work it into the women’s stories very well.
Clara was a spunky and tenacious character who accidentally meddled into a patient’s life. Her endearing imperfections made her even more lovable. The bulk of this book followed Clara on Ellis Island, and barely any chapters focused on Taryn, which I preferred. Even though I didn’t know anyone personally impacted by the 9/11 attacks, I have avoided novels that used it as the motivating event for the characters due to the indescribable impact it had on our nation. Here, there was just enough description of Taryn’s experience in lower Manhattan to tie her to the scarf and allow the lessons of love learned by Clara to make an impact without her being overcome by grief.
The writing was inconsistent as was the plot, with lots happening and then nothing happening, and that made this a frustrating read for me. I found myself pushing through several of the conversations, which were too long and slow. I almost gave up on this book, and had Clara not discovered an interesting secret in the first 100 pages, I wouldn’t have continued. There was too much repetition with characters describing things multiple times, and using the same wording too many times on the same page. That kind of stuff bugs me. I will say that the author spared nothing when it came to her research of Ellis Island and the sentiment of the people in New York at the turn of the century. Each character moved and spoke distinctively different than the others, which added authenticity to the story.
Although the women were both touched by the loss of a loved one and the plot was heavy, their hopeful outlook to find love and continue on with their lives made the story very touching and inspirational.