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The Nature of Fragile Things

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,669 ratings  ·  660 reviews
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. Sa
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 2nd 2021 by Berkley Books
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Ruth They don't sleep together until they are married, she notices that he doesn't say grace before meals, she says bedtime prayers with the little girl an…moreThey don't sleep together until they are married, she notices that he doesn't say grace before meals, she says bedtime prayers with the little girl and at some point he says that if she wants to got to church there are plenty of Catholic ones around. She reminds him she is Protestant and he says there are plenty of that kind too. Oh, and there is one quote from the Book of Common Prayer. I'd say it is more a book about someone who is Christian (at least a little) than Christian fiction as you usually think of it. (less)
Paula I just listened to it on the Libby app through my library. Not sure if that’s what you were asking, but it was great. The narration was perfect!

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Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,669 ratings  ·  660 reviews

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Angela M
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

Wow this was a wonderful book and I really don’t want to let go of these characters! This novel had all of the elements that I look for in a great historical fiction and is a solid 5+ stars.

The Nature of Fragile Things has such a unique way to look at the devastating earthquake that took place in San Francisco in 1906. I have visited San Francisco at least 4 times many years ago and it was a beautiful city then. This book took me right into the time prior to and duri
Holly  B
Mysterious, riveting and hard to put down!

A mail order bride named Sophie, from Ireland, marries a man she knows nothing about in 1906. She answers his ad and they settle into the home he has purchased in San Francisco. Its the most comfortable home Sophie has ever had and she adores his five year old daughter, Kat.

Its not long before Sophie starts questioning her new husband's actions and his secrecy. She fears something isn't quite right.

So much begins to happen, their world rocks, a mass
ALL. THE. STARS. Susan Meissner completely swept me up with her exceptional storytelling, transporting me to San Francisco 1906 and into the lives of these characters. Sophie is an Irish immigrant who travels to San Francisco as a mail order bride. When Sophie meets Martin she is attracted to his luxe but not certain about his personality. His daughter Cat however completely captures Sophie‘s heart. As the bond between Sophie and Cat grows martin becomes more and more shady. Then one night a you ...more
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Susan Meissner is a masterful story teller that keeps you engrossed from beginning to end!! She creates beautiful characters and lets them tell their story!!

We begin with Sofie Whalen, an Irish immigrant, answering an advertisement in the paper to be the wife of Martin Hocking and mother to his six-year-old daughter Kat. Sofie, looking for a better life, packs her bags and moves from New York to California. She quickly falls in love with Kat and enjoys being her mother, but her feelings for Mar
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sophie, a young Irish immigrant, is heading to San Francisco. She has answered a mail-order bride advertisement from a widowed man seeking a wife and a mother for his young child. It is a chance to escape the squalid conditions of the New York City tenement she’s been living in since coming to America. And a chance to be a mother, something she aches to be. Love, romance? Perhaps it will evolve. The newly formed family takes up residence in a lovely home near San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighbo ...more
Diana | Book of Secrets
"It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn."

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS is a wonderful and absorbing story of survival, friendship, and motherhood. Set during the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this work of historical fiction weaves together a bit of mystery and an emotional family drama with characters I won't soon forget.

Sophie is an Irish immigrant who answers a mail-order bride ad placed by a man in San
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Captivating, mysterious, and absorbing!

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS by SUSAN MEISSNER is such a beautifully written suspenseful and heartfelt historical fiction that kept me interested right to the very end.

The story was entertaining, emotional, and powerful.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Susan Meissner for my review copy!

Literary Redhead
I love Susan Meissner’s hf novels and her newest is a real page-turner with twists and secrets amid the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Meissner writes so convincingly that we feel the earth tremble, see buildings crack into kindling, watch massive fires engulf the city. We become immersed in the story of Sophie, an Irish immigrant who answers a mail order bride ad and moves to San Fran to marry widower Martin. Each has a past as explosive as the earthquake that erupts soon after she ...more
Adventurous Sophie becomes a mail order bride after answering an advert to marry a man she’s never met. She moves from a tenement in New York city to San Francisco and in the process becomes a wife and step-mom to a little girl.

Her new home is lovely and she’s drawn to her new daughter Kat immediately. Her husband, although handsome, is a little aloof but this suits Sophie as well.

As she adjusts to her new life, Sophie becomes more settled until one day a knock at the door changes everything.

San Francisco, 1906. Sophie Hocking is questioned by the US Marshal. Her husband is missing, and she waited six weeks after the San Francisco earthquake to report him missing. Why?

A year earlier. Sophie after emigrating from Ireland to NYC is now traveling to San Francisco. She is to marry a widower with a five-year-old daughter who placed an advertisement looking for a wife and mother to his child. He wanted someone from the East coast where he was from. Someone he didn’t need to cuddle and who
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
A mail-order husband that turned out to be perfect until one morning a knock at the door shattered Sophie’s life.

Actually there are two more women whose lives are shattered by Sophie’s husband.

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS takes us into the lives of Sophie, Belinda, Candace, and six-year-old Kat.

Each woman has a different story, but Martin, Sophie’s husband, is at the center of all of them.

This book was about life’s choices, the resilience of women, the beauty of friendship, the support women g
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.’

Meissners has become one of my favorite historical fiction writers. I have thoroughly enjoyed several of her previous novels, however, this one lacked the same historical detailing she usually brings to her stories. Her talent lies in her unique ability to immerse her readers right into the heart of historical events and I felt that immersion was lacking in this story. While I
More heart-wrenching Historical Fiction from Susan Meissner?!

I have really enjoyed her last two releases, The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven, so am really looking forward to this one as well.

Thank you so much for the ARC, Berkley! I appreciate it.

Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Susan Meissner's books and this one was no exception. The story of a woman from Ireland who becomes a mail order bride to a widower in San Francisco in order to provide a mother for his young daughter. Sophie doesn't love Martin, but she gradually starts to love Kat, his daughter. Then she has a mysterious visitor and everything she thought she knew turns on its head. The next morning, the San Francisco earthquake hits and nothing is the same again.

Once Sophie got her mysterious v
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: release-2021
4.5 stars. Susan Meissner’s latest release is terrific!! It’s full of twists and turns that reads like a mystery/thriller, and takes place around the devastating 1906 San Fransisco earthquake. I liked how the author used that unique element in her book, as I knew nothing about that time in our history. Sophie Whalen, an immigrant from Ireland, is quite an interesting woman, setting herself apart from women of that era (she’s mighty fierce too!) Sophie, along with two other women, Beatrice and Ca ...more
Deanne Patterson
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Deanne by:
How does one write a review for a book as fabulous as this one?
I am still trying to grasp and come to terms with what happened in it and the very unexpected ending!
The writing was very atmospheric, the descriptions surely made me feel as though I was there experiencing the earthquake and subsequent fire it caused.
I was honestly memorized by the writing and when not reading the book was thinking about it and how things would progress.
A remarkable woman rises from a life of despair and poverty and
Karen R
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great story with lovely characters, all except Martin. What a cad of the highest order!

Sophie is an industrious, curious and smart woman despite the fact that she traveled cross-country to marry a man she’d never met as she got off a train. She would soon find out that though her lifestyle would become more comfortable, her husband was mostly absent even during the rare times he was home. Martin traveled for work weeks on end, sharing few details and those shared were pretty sketchy. He was a
Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc

AUTHOR: Susan Meissner
SERIES: Standalone
RELEASE DATE: Febuary 2, 2021
GENRE: Historical Fiction
THEMES & TROPES: Polygamous Husband, Earthquake San Francisco 1906
RATING: 4.5 Stars



I grabbed this one on a whim because I read the blurb and was drawn to it. I'm glad I did!

I don't know much about the early 20th century but I did know about the big earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. This story follows a hopeful
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Nature of Fragile Things is not a writing masterpiece or particularly deep but it was a compelling story and I found it hard to put down. Set in the early 20th century in California, the story starts around the time of the San Francisco earthquake and focuses on the story Sophie tells about her marriage to a man she meets through a newspaper advertisement. From the beginning, we know that the man disappeared during the earthquake and that Sophie did not report him missing until some time lat ...more
Pam Jenoff
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
his is an incredible story of a young Irish immigrant who comes to San Francisco as a mail order bride and finds herself struggling to survive in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Susan Meissner Fans, Mystery/Thriller
4.5 Worth the Time Stars
* * * * 1/2 Spoiler Free
When I first discovered this book, I was intrigued with the idea of the great San Francisco Earthquake as the pivot point. Years ago I lived in the San Francisco Area and so I had experienced firsthand what those earthquakes felt like. No, they were not as bad as the major ones San Francisco has experienced, but the fear and concern was something you never forget.

So I started this early in the day and could not stop reading it.
I was captured and a
Kathryn in FL
ANOTHER HOME RUN for Meissner!

I have read most of Susan Meissner's books and if you are a fan as am I, this should be a hit for you. The publisher's blurb essentially encapsulates the initial plot and I will not rehash what happens after the earthquake of 1906 San Francisco for fear of being spoilerish for enthusiastic readers.

Once again, Meissner creates some interesting characters which develop throughout the story. I felt there could have been a tad bit more showing instead of telling, howev
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have read almost all of Susan Meissner's novels (except for As Bright As Heaven, which I may save until after the pandemic) and have enjoyed them all so far. However, The Nature of Fragile Things is her best one yet! I have been recommending this to family and friends to read as soon as it publishes in early February.

This was such an interesting and captivating story, full of surprises that I truly didn't see coming at all. Through Susan's use of detail and description, I could really visuali
Carol (Reading Ladies)
4.5 Stars

Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyBuddyReads for my complementary e arc of #TheNatureOfFragileThings upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Desperate to leave a deplorable situation in New York City, Sophie Whalen, a young Irish immigrant, agrees to become a mail-order bride. Sophie marries the handsome, but aloof, widower named Martin Hocking and becomes attached to his five-year-old daughter. Martin is away from home frequently. During one absence, a mysterious visitor knocks on
Laura • lauralovestoread
5/5 would recommend! I absolutely love being back to my historical fiction-loving roots and Susan Meissner has been a favorite author for me since reading A Fall of Marigolds, and then later with As Bright As Heaven.

The Nature of Fragile Things was so good and took place in a part of history, during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, that I previously hadn’t read much about.

There were complex characters, a compelling storyline full of mystery, and overall exceptional writing, making this the
Rachel McMillan
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
It was harrowing to read this story of secrets, loss and tragedy against the landscape of our own terrible 2020. It's the type of story that engages you in comparison as you witness a beautifully researched glimpse into true hardship. But the tenacity of spirit, the promise of love and the heart-saving reality of friendship underscore a novel evocatively written and seared with suspense and twists. A masterful historical work that proves yet again why Meissner is always on top of the historical ...more
Renee Rosen
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have loved all of Susan Meissner's novels and this is her best yet. Readers will be held spellbound by Sophie's journey through the horrific 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Be prepared for a real page turner with plenty of twists. The prose is stunning and the characters are original and brought vividly to life. Highly recommend!!! ...more
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A captivating story of resilience placed amid the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake

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 quic
Erica (sand_between_pages)
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you so much to Berkley for the free copy of The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner!
“It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.”
This is one freaking awesome story! WOW! How would I describe this book? Probably a historical thriller; I haven't read anything quite like this. While I love historical fiction, I do not often find that it keeps me "on the edge of my seat". However, I felt I was alongside our mai
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Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling novelist with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her critically acclaimed works of historical fiction have been named to numerous lists including Publishers Weekly’s annual roster of 100 best books, Library Reads Top Picks, Real Simple annual tally of best books, Goodreads Readers’ Choice awards, Booklist’s Top Ten, and Book of t ...more

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