The Nature of Fragile Things
by Susan Meissener
Published Date Feb 2, 2021
by Berkley Publishing Group
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.
Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.
Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.
The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.
From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity.
Susan Meissner is a masterful story teller that keeps you engrossed from beginning to end!! She creates beautiful characters and lets them tell their story!!
We begin with Sofie Whalen, an Irish immigrant, answering an advertisement in the paper to be the wife of Martin Hocking and mother to his six-year-old daughter Kat. Sofie, looking for a better life, packs her bags and moves from New York to California. She quickly falls in love with Kat and enjoys being her mother, but her feelings for Martin never grow nor does Martin show any love towards her.
On a night that Martin is out of town, a woman named Belinda knocks on the door of the Hocking home looking for him. Sofie invites her in and soon the secrets that Martin keeps, start to unravel. These two women form an unlikely bond and venture to find some answers.
Of course, neither of them knew what lied ahead. We are then transported to the 1906 earthquakes in San Francisco, California. Meissner provides a well-researched account of the devastation of the earthquake and the fires that burned for days afterwards, destroying everything in its path. While reading, I could actually picture the ashes falling from the sky like snow and smell the burning fire. If this earthquake happened today, it would be considered a 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale.
I’m not going to reveal any more about the intertwined lives of Sofie, Kat and Belinda. I don’t want to spoil a marvelous read for you. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves historical fiction, a story full of secrets, lies, love, loss, and female friendships. Everything a five-star read should be!!
Thank you Edelweiss, Susan Meissner, and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me an Advanced Reader Copy of The Nature of Fragile Things in exchanged for my unbiased review.