Book Review: The Nature of Fragile Things


The Nature of Fragile Things is a historical fiction novel by Susan Meissner set around the time of the April 18, 1906 massive earthquake that rocked San Francisco just before daybreak.


Sophie Whalen is an Irish immigrant living in a down-trodden tenement in New York who responds to a mail-order bride ad to marry Martin Hocking of San Francisco and care for his 5-year-old daughter while he travels for work. It sounds like the perfect opportunity to better her situation and while Martin is incredibly handsome (though quite aloof), it’s little Kat who steals her heart.

It isn’t long before a pregnant woman arrives on her doorstep and changes everything. Sophie discovers ties to other women and is determined to get to the bottom of Martin’s lies as she realizes he isn’t the man he’s led her to believe. Gripping, heartbreaking, and historically accurate, this novel is a beautiful, page-turning tale of mother love, friendship, and female solidarity.


My favorite part of this book was that it centered around the 1906 earthquake, an event I’d heard and known very little about, that was detrimental to the city of San Francisco. It made the reading experience feel a bit like time travel as I peeked into the past and bore witness to events that actually happened. The author truly captured the panic and devastation that took place on that morning as the historical account ran alongside the dramatic fiction tale creating a web of both knowledge and excitement. The writing was eloquent and the story complex. I found myself believing in these characters and was wrapped up in the story as opposed to looking in from the outside. It was truly a great read that I recommend if you like historical fiction and strong women who take charge.

The Nature of Fragile Things will be available everywhere February 2, 2021.

Thank you Berkley Publishing Group for providing an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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