The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner


The Nature of Fragile Things

by Susan Meissner

Publisher: Berkley

Pub Date: February 2nd, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed. 

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. 


“I am not normally a fan of historical fiction but this book changed that for me. There were enough secrets and lies, plot twists, and possible murders to keep me on the edge of my seat the ENTIRE book.”

Erica, @whimsicalyme


“Susan Meissner does a fabulous job depicting the 1906 earthquake, its impact, and the relief efforts. The details are compelling and impeccable and give such a sense of the natural and man-made conditions working against the firefighters, as well as the disparate effects for rich and poor.”

Aimee, @aimeedarsreads

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Highlights & Reviews

“This historical fiction novel grabbed me and I couldn’t put it down. The historical details and the elements of suspense compelled me to keep reading.”

Carol, @lowkey.bookish

Blog Posts from our members:


“The book moved me to tears and left me feeling totally inspired by the courage of these women.”

Megan, @glitterandplato

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