I received a gifted galley of THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS by Susan Meissner for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review!
Publication Date: 2/2/2021
Rating: 4.5 / 5
THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS begins with a marriage of convenience. Sophie is an Irish immigrant living in poverty in New York who answers an ad from Martin, a businessman in San Francisco who wants a wife and a mother for his daughter. Sophie has longed to be a mother, so she agrees and within a day she meets Martin and marries him, and together with his daughter Kat move into a new home.
Married life isn’t entirely what Sophie expected. Martin is very closed off about himself and travels even more than expected. Kat is traumatized by the death of her mother and hardly ever speaks, but Sophie comfortably falls into the role of mother. A year into their life together, her world is shaken in more ways than one. A knock at the door brings shocking news followed quickly by the big earthquake of 1906.
Growing up in California, I was aware of the big earthquake in San Francisco’s past and the devastation that it caused along with the subsequent fires, but I didn’t know a lot of details. This book did a lot to bring the life of the refugees from that earthquake to light. The book also has a few mysteries that play out and keep the reader reading to find out the answers. These are well done to slowly dole out details and bring things to a satisfying conclusion.
While there are solid plot elements, I think that the characters are the real strength of the book. As we learn more about the characters and Sophie’s backstory especially, the author does a fantastic job explaining where they are coming from and why they do what they do. There is a lot of focus on the women in the novel and the bonds between mother and child and between friends.
While it deals with some difficult subjects (abuse, infidelity, violence and of course the devastation of the earthquake), it really is an uplifting read and one that I would recommend. This was my first Susan Meissner read, but I have added more of her novels to my TBR! I highly recommend this to the historical fiction fans!