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The Nature of Fragile Things

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

By Susan Meissner




Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant desperate to get out of a squalid New York tenement. She answers a mail order bride advertisement and agrees to marry a man she's never met who lives in San Francisco. When she arrives in San Francisco the widower Marvin Hocking proves to be elusive, disappearing for work for days at a time and rarely has much to say when he is home. Despite that, Sophie quickly develops a deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter. Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her situation isn't quite right.

Early one spring evening Belinda Bigelow, a young pretty pregnant women knocks on Sophie’s door looking for her husband, James. Sophie soon discovers she has something in common with Belinda as well as with another woman, Candace who is sick with consumption and lives hundreds of miles away in Arizona.

The fate of these three women are intertwine forever on the eve of a devastating earthquake that will test their resiliency and resolve.

“It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fires to burn. And just as it is the nature of men and women to build, it is also in our nature to begin again after disaster.


The Nature of Fragile Things is a must-read captivating book placed amidst the devastation of 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The earthquake toppled not only the city, the but newly built life that Sophia had just created. The man that she married was not who he said he was. Secrets abound in this immersing and delightfully descriptive historical fiction novel.

Author Susan Messiner has drawn a powerful portrait of a strong and smart woman with filled with perseverance and resilience in the character of Sohpie. This is a unique and fascinating story that expands the definition of family and the bonds of friendship. It is perfectly paced, creatively constructed and emotionally intense. Highly Recommended.

Susan Meissner is the author of numerous novels most recently including The Last Year of the War (2019) and As Bright as Heaven (2018),

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Publisher Berkley

Published February 2, 2021

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