Publication Date: 2014
September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?
September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?
1. Multiple POVs. All in all, we liked BOTH characters that we met. The story shows very little of Taryn (the present-day character), with just a chapter at the beginning and middle and a few chapters at the end, but we really wanted more. Not that we wanted to take away anything from Clara’s story. Really, we just wanted the book to be longer.
2. The history. In a previous book club, we read historical fiction that talked about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which is one of the most deadly fires in US history, and one that still manages to elude our history classes. This novel takes us back to that day and parallels the Triangle fire to 9/11. Most of us love historical fiction, and this novel definitely made history seem so relatable.
3. The growth. This whole story is not a romance story. Sure there’s some love connections going on, but overall, this is a story of personal growth and overcoming major obstacles. These characters are FLAWED, but you’re cheering for them the whole way, and they grow so much from the beginning to the end of the story.
1. The setup. It took us a while to figure out how the setup works. I found myself flipping forward chapters to see when we would be switching point of views again.
2. The sad. But it’s definitely not the saddest book we’ve ever read in book club. Like I said, it’s much more about facing obstacles and overcoming them, so the sad is mostly in the beginning before the characters begin to push forward.
“Great book. I only cried twice!”