A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
A Fall of Marigolds is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2016. Set in New York and on Ellis Island, with two female lead characters and two time periods, both of which draw their story from two very real and tragic events.
1911 – Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Clara witnesses her new love, Edward, plunging to his death. She flees to Ellis Island where she nurses not only the sick immigrants newly landed from far away countries but also her wounded heart. Cocooned in this in-between world, she is shielded from the reality of life in New York, a vibrant city full of hope, new beginnings, and the promise of endless possibilities.
Clara finds herself drawn to Andrew, a patient, struggling to survive from typhoid while he grieves the loss of his wife. Wrapped around his neck is a lady’s scarf. When she inadvertently discovers a truth about his life she struggles with the knowledge. Should she tell him or should she not? Is it her secret to keep?
Can she summon the strength to put to bed the ghost that haunts her? How can she conquer her overwhelming guilt and her sense of responsibility for Edward’s death?
Fast forward ninety years – September 11, 2001, Taryn is meeting her husband at the restaurant at the Top of the World in the World Trade Centre to deliver news that will change their lives. A customer from her fabric store detains her on the way to meet with her husband, with a request to pick up an old scarf that needs to have its fabric matched, causing her to be late to meet with her husband.
She arrives at the World Trade Centre just as the first tower collapses. A hand reaches out to pull her from the rubble, and the stranger transports her to safety before carrying on with his own agenda.
Meanwhile, racked with survivor guilt Taryn forges on for the sake of her unborn child, creating a haven for them both. She has lulled herself into believing that her life is fulfilled with her daughter and her work to occupy her.
A chance photo printed on the tenth anniversary of the Twin Towers devastation portrays Taryn, covered in debris, but alive, thanks to the hand that saved her. She is recognised and the circumstances that follow, force her to confront her past while presenting choices for the future, if only she will accept them.