The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
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.
Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than three-quarters of a million books in print in eighteen languages. She is an author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Nature of Fragile Things, which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly; The Last Year of the War, named to Real Simple magazine’s list of best books for 2019; As Bright as Heaven, which earned a starred review in Library Journal; Secrets of Charmed Life, a Goodreads finalist for Best Historical Fiction 2015; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.
“The plucky and principled Sophie (who is hiding a few secrets of her own) captivates from the first page, while naive Belinda and sensitive Kat are standouts. Ingeniously plotted and perfectly structured, this captivates from beginning to end.” --Publishers Weekly
The Book of Lost Light by Ron Nyren
Winner of Black Lawrence Press’s 2019 Big Moose Prize and finalist in the 2020 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction—this novel tells the story of Joseph Kylander, whose childhood in early 20th-century San Francisco has been shaped by his widowed father’s obsessive photographic project and by his headstrong cousin Karelia’s fanciful storytelling and impulsive acts. The 1906 earthquake upends their eccentric routines, and they take refuge with a capricious patron and a group of artists looking to find meaning after the disaster. The Book of Lost Light explores family loyalty and betrayal, Finnish folklore, the nature of time and theater, and what it takes to recover from calamity and build a new life from the ashes.
Ron Nyren’s fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, Able Muse, Dalhousie Review, 100 Word Story, and elsewhere. His stories have been shortlisted for the O. Henry Awards and the Pushcart Prize. He is the coauthor, with his spouse and writing partner Sarah Stone, of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers, and a former editor of Furious Fictions: The Magazine of Short-Short Stories. Ron earned his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of a major Hopwood award, the Farrar Prize in Playwriting, the Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship, and the Andrea Beauchamp prize in short fiction. A former Stegner Fellow, he teaches fiction writing for Stanford University.
"Ron Nyren’s The Book of Lost Light is a beautifully written novel about the early days of photography; the capturing of time; acting; love, and much else. At its center is a wonderfully complex relationship between a father and his son, which is played out before, during, and after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The book is absolutely riveting, and its images will stay with you long after you finish reading it. I loved it.” -- Charles Baxter, author of The Sun Collective
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