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The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner Book Review

Reasons for reading this book

The reason I read The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner is because it was the July book for The ReadHeads podcast book club. Since I am a member of this podcast book club I read the book. When I began reading the book I only knew that is was about the San Fransisco earthquake. I was excited to read this book because I start my year of service with AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA in July in California and reading about a natural disaster in the area only seemed fitting for the adventure I am about to embark on.

Content of this book

Without ever meeting, Sophie agrees to marry Martin Hocking after responding to his newspaper advertisement for a wife and mother to this young daughter Kat. As an Irish immigrant living in New York Sophie is desperate to get out of the city and live a better life. That is why she agrees to marry Martin. From Sophie's understanding Martin has one agenda for this unusual marriage, to look professional and like he has his life together and not like he is a widower with a daughter who is so traumatized she won't speak. Upon arriving to San Fransisco Sophie believes that she will eventually grow to love and be affectionate with Martin. Not long after the court house wedding Martin's actions begin to raise questions in Sophie's mind. Is there more going on that he is not telling her? After a pregnant women comes to Sophie's house she learns that Martin may have been involved with more women than just her. Things begin to crumble, both from the earthquake and in the life of Sophie and the other women. Together these women will face the unthinkable through a journey with resiliency and the belief that love conquers fear.


What defines family? Expect the unexpected. Not everyone is who they say they are. Love conquers fear. Women empower women. Family is what you make of it.

What I liked about this book

I liked that this book was entertaining from beginning to end. The story progressed in a way that kept the reader both entertained and intrigued throughout the whole book. The author did a phenomenal job of developing Sophie's character to be well-rounded and complex. The format of the book is unique in that some parts are told in an interview style with the dialog written in question and answer form and the other chapters of the book are written from Sophie retelling what had happened in her life before and after the earthquake. As someone who is very interested in natural disasters I was excited to learn about a piece of history that was never discussed in any of my American history classes. I found the portions of the book directly following the earthquake to be very informative on how natural disasters were handled back then. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about a natural disaster that I knew little about. Lastly I really liked how Susan Meissner concluded the book. The conclusion of both the interviews and retelling from Sophie were well done. I highly recommend reading the epilogue as is gives even more information on the lives of the characters following the conclusion of the story. I loved that these women were able to take a messed up situation and turn it around. I loved and connected to the idea of an unconventional family.  

What I disliked about this book

There were certain pieces of information and parts of the story that were repeated numerous times. The reader already know this information and the author could have easily just stated the Sophie gave whom ever the story and information that she knew. I get that some times the reactions of the character learning this information could be important but I was tired of hearing the same pieces of information over and over.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes I would recommend this book. With that being said it is not at the top of my list of 2021 reads, but it is  written well and an entertaining read. After listening to The Readheads podcast episode on this book I was much more appreciative of this book.

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!


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