I recently finished reading A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. This book is a dual timeline novel, with the main plot set in 1911 and the secondary plot set in 2011. The two timelines are held together by a lovely scarf prnted with bright marigolds.
The 1911 plot features Clara Wood, a nurse in a hospital on Ellis Island. I enjoyed learning more about the immigrants of that era, as well as about the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. I knew something about the fire from a high-school history class, but Susan Meissner made the horror real as well as using the tragedy to develop Clara’s character. Clara wrestles with the ethics of knowing something about one of the immigrant patients in the hospital and whether to reveal it.
The 2011 plot features Taryn Michaels, who was widowed in the September 11, 2001, attack. Ten years later, she is finally coming to terms with losing her husband. Her story of loss parallels Clara’s in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
Usually, in dual timeline novels, I prefer the historical plot and find the contemporary plot rather tedious. Not so in this book. While the 1911 was much more developed and definitely made the novel successful, I wanted more of Taryn’s story.
Do you like dual timeline stories? Do you prefer the historical or the contemporary story?
Theresa is the award-winning author of historical fiction about settling the American West. Before she turned to writing, Theresa was an attorney, mediator, and human resources executive.
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