Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Publication: April 18th 2023 by Berkley
Taken from Goodreads: A heartrending story about a young mother’s fight to keep her daughter, and the winds of fortune that tear them apart by the New York Times bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things and The Last Year of the War.
California, 1938—When she loses her parents in an accident, sixteen-year-old Rosanne is taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her whole life as the vinedresser’s daughter. She moves into Celine and Truman Calvert’s spacious house with a secret, however—Rosie sees colors when she hears sound. She promised her mother she’d never reveal her little-understood ability to anyone, but the weight of her isolation and grief prove too much for her. Driven by her loneliness she not only breaks the vow to her mother, but in a desperate moment lets down her guard and ends up pregnant. Banished by the Calverts, Rosanne believes she is bound for a home for unwed mothers, and having lost her family she treasures her pregnancy as the chance for a future one. But she soon finds out she is not going to a home of any kind, but to a place far worse than anything she could have imagined.
Austria, 1947—After witnessing firsthand Adolf Hitler’s brutal pursuit of hereditary purity—especially with regard to “different children”—Helen Calvert, Truman's sister, is ready to return to America for good. But when she arrives at her brother’s peaceful vineyard after decades working abroad, she is shocked to learn what really happened nine years earlier to the vinedresser’s daughter, a girl whom Helen had long ago befriended. In her determination to find Rosanne, Helen discovers that while the war had been won in Europe, there are still terrifying battles to be fought at home.
My Thoughts: Susan Meissner is an author that any historical fiction reader should know of. She writes the most detailed history books that I have ever read. I finish the book and realize how much I have just learned about the history and about life while reading a fiction book.
Only the Beautiful is set during WWII. The first part of the book is in California and the second half is in Europe. The book is told from two points of view, telling of the character's past and present. It tells how the past can shape your future, make you stronger, and teach you so many lessons. The character's stories are inspiring and heartbreaking. I expect nothing less of a Susan Meissner book.
Thank you Berkley for a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Meet Susan Meissner (Taken from her website): Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than three-quarters of a million books in readers' hands and translations in eighteen languages. She is an author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Nature of Fragile Things, which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly; The Last Year of the War, named to Real Simple magazine’s list of best books for 2019; As Bright as Heaven, which earned a starred review in Library Journal; Secrets of Charmed Life, a Goodreads finalist for Best Historical Fiction 2015; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014.
She attended Point Loma Nazarene University in California and makes her home with her husband and yellow Lab in the Pacific Northwest.
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