The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner, whose novel As Bright As Heaven was about the 1918/19 flu pandemic, has a gift for writing historical fiction about subjects that don’t get enough historical fiction written about them. (Seriously, I know every single thing about WW2 is fascinating, but it seems like in the past few years, 80% of the historical novels I see in bookstores are about the war, the Nazis, the Holocaust, the Resistance, the spies, the war, the war, the war … and it’s all fascinating and there are so many untold women’s stories from the WW2 era of course … but there are so many great untold stories from other events too!). This one is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and a young Irish immigrant woman with a mysterious past, a hasty marriage to a mysterious stranger, a child in need, and an unlikely friendship with another woman who should be her enemy. In the midst of all this, the city is torn apart by the earthquake, and it’s both a fascinating bit of history and an apt metaphor for the upheaval of Sophie Whalen’s life. A really good read.

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