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Publisher's Summary

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.

Praise for The Nature of Fragile Things 

“A mysterious web of lies, love, and loss that accelerates toward the inevitable: the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906." (Kristin Harmel, author of The Book of Lost Names)

“A riveting tale set in 1906 San Francisco. These fascinating characters' hidden pasts and dark secrets collide, entwine, and explode - and that's before the earthquake hits." (Greer Macallister, author of The Magician's Lie and The Arctic Fury)

“In the ashes of San Francisco's greatest tragedy, one remarkable woman finds love, friendship, and the means to rebuild. Historical fiction that reads with the urgency and suspense of a thriller.” (Lauren Willig, New York Times best-selling author of The Summer Country)

“Driven by the unstoppable force of the three intriguing women at its heart, this is a novel to savor, and one to share with all the women in your life whom you admire." (Hazel Gaynor, New York Times best-selling author of When We Were Young & Brave)

©2021 Susan Meissner (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Meissner spins an exceptional story.... Unexpected and masterfully crafted twists and turns abound.... Ingeniously plotted and perfectly structured, this captivates from beginning to end.” (Publisher's Weekly, starred review) 

“A terrific tale that takes us on a harrowing cable-car ride through early 20th-century San Francisco, where dark secrets - like the city itself - crack wide open, forcing our world-weary heroine to confront the devastation done by the lies she's been told and by the lies she's still telling.” (Stephanie Dray, author of America’s First Daughter and The Women of Chateau Lafayette

“A brilliant story of resilience and the power of female friendship." (Marie Benedict, New York Times best-selling author of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie)
 

What listeners say about The Nature of Fragile Things

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wow!

Oh my gosh. What a wonderful story. What a beautiful tale of resilience and strength and womanhood. The audio reading of this book made this infinitely better. Literally transported me right into the story and kept me enthralled the entire way through. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-02-2021

The Nature of Fragile Things is a 5 star listen!

I started this amazing book on the date is was released, February 2 & finished on February 4, 2021. Susan Meissner has not disappointed , I would rate this book 10 stars if I possible. Her new book was unputdownable from the beginning & I would highly recommend! I enjoyed all the twists, turns, & surprises revealed in the story!

5 people found this helpful

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  • JennyR
  • 09-02-2021

Fantastic Book

This was one of those, " I could not put it down" books. I read the book first, and immediately ordered the Audible version to listen to. The narrator was perfect! I was able to catch things I had missed. on the second time thru. The Earthquake made such an incredible background for the rest of the story to unfold.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Teresa
  • 07-02-2021

Suspenseful and compelling! Wonderful!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It draws you in, deeper and deeper, until you must know more about the untold, the secrets and lies and twists. And the ending—so deeply satisfying. Great book! Maybe Susan Meissner’s finest.

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  • Admirer of great books; critic of bad books.
  • 26-02-2021

What an amazing story! WOW!

I don't know why I picked this book...the cover seemed to call to me. So I listened to the sample and I was pulled in with just that. This is truly a book that I wish could go on forever. The characters are well-defined, the storyline well-developed. The dialogue so genuine and real to the events. The scenery of San Francisco and all its devastation was clearly visible to me. The storyline was so intriguing. I liked that the story was cohesive. There was no unnecessary (oft-ridiculous) angst involved. I didn't have to suspend reality. This is one of my top 2 books in more than a year, and I imagine I'll be reading more by this author. This is the first time I've ready anything by her...and I'm in awe. I had to tear myself away from my device because I actually downloaded this for a weekend read, but it's only Friday evening and I've only 2 hours left to go. And the title of the book...well, it certainly made me think. This is a shooting star book!

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  • MelSA
  • 19-02-2021

Rising inflection in the delivery

I enjoyed this book very much, but the narration was often teeth-grindingly irritating. The reader used an irregular lift in her inflection, creating a breathy emphasis where it made no sense in the sentence. I considered returning the book, but I really wanted to find out what happened.

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  • darla
  • 03-02-2021

Another well done book

Wonderfully written and narrated. Such a great, unpredictable story line that wraps everything up well.

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  • Larry
  • 17-02-2021

Exceptional

Susan Meissner does it again!! An amazing journey of 3 women and how they fall victim to one man or is it? Their strength bonds them together through the earthquake.

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  • Michelle Lesowski
  • 09-05-2021

The Earth shuffles lives

The chance to remake one’s identity, migration, mothering, and the SF 1906 quake are themes in this novel of attempting to escape past tragedies. Elegantly written and enthrallingly performed.

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  • Kristin W
  • 08-05-2021

Good story, nice pace

I love historical fiction and San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century was interesting to experience. The story laid out twists and turns without being dark or causing anxiety.

An excellent choice for anyone who loves to escape into an audiobook for easy listening. I would recommend this to any of my girlfriends.

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  • Diane O'Malley
  • 08-05-2021

Loved the story but....

I enjoyed this book in Audible. The narrator had a pleasant sounding voice but she often dropped the volume of her voice toward the end of her sentences. This required me to keep the phone volume higher than I would have liked so that I didn’t miss anything.

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