Today at Great New Books, we have the pleasure of hosting guest contributor Susan Meissner, author of the novel FALL OF MARIGOLDS. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

Thanks to Susan, we have one autographed copy of FALL OF MARIGOLDS to give away! (Details below.)

Thank you, Susan, for joining us at Great New Books and sharing one of your favorite reads with us today!


Author Susan Meissner, on one of her recent favorite books:

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Thanks so much for having me as your guest at Great New Books to talk about my favorite topic, my favorite books!

Just a few months ago, when I first began to read And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini’s newest gem, I had to remind myself of what he had said to me as I sat among other eager devotees of his in a packed auditorium in San Diego. This book was not like the other two, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, both of which I devoured. He told us this new book wasn’t a typical story construct with page 1 being the beginning and page 500 being the end of one person’s story. So I should not have been surprised by the episodic feel of And the Mountains Echoed about a brother and his sister, separated by circumstances that cut me to the core.

And I wasn’t surprised exactly, but I was rather a bit disappointed in myself as I read the book because I hadn’t realized how dependent I’d become on traditional storytelling. I had to work a little harder to keep the story alive in my head and heart when I wasn’t reading it. I believe that’s my fault, not the author’s, because true to his other two books, Khaled Hosseini is a master of prose. The ending is nothing short of perfect. I really did love this book. Don’t ask me if I liked it as much as Kite Runner and Suns. I liked it as much, only different. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

What I liked best about And The Mountains Echoed was what tripped me up initially, and that is the lack of a singular main protagonist on an obvious chronological pursuit of happiness. This tale is far less linear than your typical novel, but because it was so masterfully done, I loved this aspect of this book. And quotable quotes? They abound in the pages. Like this one: “It’s a funny thing… but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.” And this one: “For courage, there must be something at stake.”  And this one: “They say, Find a purpose in your life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind.”

The book has been described as one in which Hosseini “explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.” It has also been described as a book that “expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.”

That’s actually a really great way to describe this book – the story expands steadily but slowly outward. So don’t plant your feet, or snuggle down into a slumber-like pose. Read and reach outward, friends.


Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses. Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

For more about Susan, visit her site at and find her on Twitter at @SusanMeissner.


More about A FALL OF MARIGOLDS by Susan Meissner:

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?

To enter the drawing to win the autographed and personalized copy of Susan Meissner’s novel, A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, fill out the form and click Submit below. It’s as simple as that! Entries are open from Wednesday, March 5 until Friday, March 7 at midnight Eastern time.

Great New Books will email the winner on Saturday, March 8. (Entries for the Continental US only, please.) As always, thanks for helping us to spread the word about great books and thank you for joining us!