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The Nature of Fragile Things (2021)

por Susan Meissner

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Mostrando 1-5 de 16 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
We never know "Sophie's" full story until the end, though we get hints of it throughout the book. She is really is Saoirse and is running from the law in Ireland, by way of New York, answering an ad for a bride by a man even more deceiving and cunning then she is. She loves her new role as stepmother to a silent five year old girl and does everything to keep her close and safe. On top of all that she has the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire to deal with. I think this is the best story of this disaster I have read because there is so much more than just going through it and surviving. ( )
  eliorajoy | May 24, 2021 |
"‘Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive."
(from Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field)

This captivating story by Susan Meissner, shines brightly upon the author's tremendous gifts as a fine storyteller. This is an historical fiction piece surrounding the days leading up to, through and following the great San Francisco earthquake of April 18,1906. Yet, to my understanding, it is the quake itself which is the sole real character of the story.

Ms. Meissner weaves an intriguing tale of mystery and suspense shedding light upon the lot of women of the day. It shows how they subjugated themselves to the men in their lives in exchange for protection, security and hopefully, affection. As the story opens, we discover that New York Irish immigrant, Sophie Whalen, tired of living in a cramped tenement and working under horrible conditions, answers an ad submitted by a widower from San Francisco in need of a wife to look after his 5 year old daughter. Letters are exchanged and off to San Francisco Sophie goes. Upon her arrival in the city, they immediately marry, collect his daughter from a rooming house and move into their Russian Hill home. Sophie finds her husband enigmatic and merely attributes it to his grief from the loss of his previous wife. Kat, the young reticent daughter, also appears mired in grief over the loss of her mother. To the outside world, all appears as it should until that day a stranger comes to call. The husband is away on business and narratives begin to unravel.

Through Ms. Meissner deft writing, one can easily visualize the utter chaos in the city as china is catapulted off its shelves, water and gas lines burst open, fumes ignite, walls tremble, shake and collapse and fire consumes five square miles of the crippled city. So much devastation, sorrow and helplessness concentrated in such a small area. Yet through it all, the women of this grand tale rise above their condition and build their future.

Synopsis (from publisher's website):

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. ( )
  KateBaxter | May 9, 2021 |
In this historically interesting and intriguing novel set in 1905, Sophie Whalen is an Irish immigrant living in NYC in a crowded tenement when she reads about a widowed man with a small daughter wanting to marry a woman to provide a home for them in San Francisco. She sees a way out of her dreary existence, and immediately responds. When she arrives in San Francisco, they are immediately married and she then meets his daughter, Kat, and they all move into a nicely-appointed home. Martin Hocking is a traveling man with abundant secrets. By the time these secrets are exposed, Sophie is completely devoted to 5-year old Kat, who has selective mutism.

In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake devastates the entire city, and ends Sophie's life as she knew it. She leaves behind her home that contains a lethal secret, but takes with her documents incriminating Martin, along with her beloved Kat and another woman who fell under Martin's spell in his involved schemes to profit. The depth of deceptions by Martin Hocking are numerous and far-reaching. Sophie also has secrets of her own, which propelled her into a marriage of convenience. This novel contains actual events of the horrific earthquake and its aftermath in San Francisco. ( )
  pdebolt | Apr 29, 2021 |
I am such a fan of Susan Meissner and her books. She is such a great storyteller that keeps you interested from page one all the way to The End.
I think all of us have heard of the Great Fire and earthaquake of San Francisco, but I knew very little about the details and how it felt to actually be there. This book will make you feel like you are experiencing it for yourself.
An entire cast of memorable characters, that will capture your heart and keep you invested in their lives.
Lot of twists and surprises and heart warming moments throughout to keep you turning page after page quickly.
5 big stars for this one. This might be my new favorite from Susan Meissner. ( )
  SharleneMartinMoore | Apr 24, 2021 |
I love that I started this book on 4/18/21 since that is the 115 year anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco great quake and fire and that event is part of this book’s story.

I loved the writing style.

It was a page-turner for me and hard to put down.

I loved the narrator/new wife & mother character and the character of the little girl Kat. I loved or (appropriately detested) many other characters.

This one surprised me. In went in an unexpected direction. I’m glad I knew as little as I did when I started the book. I loved the twists and turns from first page to last page.

There was a bit too much hinting of the mystery of Sophie’s background though I think that much of it is easily guessed.

I appreciated that in the author’s note and discussion questions at the end of the book she reveals that there will be major spoilers and suggests that the reader read the book first.

Great historical fiction story and San Francisco story. Good story about motherhood, friendships, friends as family, lives reinvented, and survival. I loved it.

4-1/2 stars

I simultaneously read a Kindle e-edition book and Overdrive audiobook both borrowed from the library. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Apr 21, 2021 |
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Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable---and life is more than a dream.
                                     ---Mary Wollstonecraft
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for Claire
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Interview with Mrs. Sophie Hocking conducted by Ambrose Logan, U.S. Marshall Case Number 069308
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March 1905
The sun is dissolving like an enchantment as I stand at the ferry railing and look out on the San Francisco horizon.
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It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.
And just as it is the nature of men and women to build, it is also in our nature to to begin again after disaster. This I know too.
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