“There isn't just one ending, one answer, one person who can make us happy, or not. Maybe we can all begin again, become different people.”
This historical novel is a unique tale of love lost and love found that transitions between two time periods, Austria 1938 and Los Angeles 1989 and into the early 1990's. The first storyline focuses on the Austrian resistance during World War II which centers around the love story between a Jewish stamp engraver's daughter and his apprentice, and the other storyline Katie Nelson whose discovery of an usual stamp in her father's stamp collection leads her on a journey of discovery with several unexpected happenings. Everything in the narrative focuses on one central mystery, an unopened letter with a striking stamp. Cantor does a great job transitioning between two narratives. The novel is well written and kept my interest as clues are unraveled to reveal the mystery. There are a series of coincidences towards the ending of the story that seem to me a bit implausible but does not detract too much from the story.
I loved the author's note at the end of the book where she helps us the reader separate the truth from the fiction by saying, "All of the characters in this novel, including Ted, are fictional, but many ideas in the book are rooted not just in my own personal experience, with watching my grandmother's memory decline, but also in real historical events. Though all the stamps and the engravers in this book are fictional, there were real engravers who took part in the resistance.”
Book Synopsis (Goodreads)
Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher's fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.
Los Angeles, 1989.
Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad's collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.
EverReady Book Reviews 4 out of 5 stars
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
“The person who completes your life is not so much the person who shares all the years of your existence, but rather the person who made your life worth living, no matter how long or short a time you were given to spend with them.”
This novel has an intriguing premise of how a scarf can be a connection between two women 100 years apart as each experiences events unique to their respective time in history. It is an emotional and well written book that deals with heavy themes from two of the worst NYC disasters, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and 911. You get two stories of tragic events within one book set many years ago and in the present as each experiences events unique to their respective time in history. Their stories are skillfully woven together by a beautiful decorated scarf of marigolds. I do need to mention some parts of the story had coincidences that seemed implausible but the story kept my interest start to finish. I also enjoyed learning bits of historical information on what is was like to live on Ellis Island in the early 1900's and the immigration process.
EverReady Book Reviews 4 out of 5 stars
Book Synospis (Goodreads)
September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?
September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?