When Sophie Whalen, an Irish immigrant, comes across an ad in a NYC-newspaper of a rich widower in search of a new wife and mother for his young daughter, she doesn’t think twice about it.
She responds and puts herself forth for the position. She’s got nothing to lose.
The widower, Martin Hocking, lives in San Francisco and Sophie wants nothing more than to escape from New York.
After she arrived from Ireland, her circumstances didn’t end up as she expected. She’s been living in an overcrowded, unsanitary tenement building, barely making ends meet.
Upon arrival in San Francisco, Sophie marries Mr. Martin Hocking that very day at the city Courthouse. He then takes her home and introduces her to his 5-year old daughter, Kat.
Kat is a beautiful girl, bright, though quite serious. The young girl has been silent since the loss of her mother.
Sophie is taken with the child from the very start. She can tell sweet Kat is hurting and she vows to do whatever she can to make the child feel safe and loved.
For his part, Martin is very handsome, as well as a good provider, but he is rarely around, traveling frequently for work. Even when he is home, he isn’t affectionate with Sophie, or Kat.
It is on one of these occasions while he is away, that a stranger comes knocking on Sophie’s door and changes everything.
Shocking revelations regarding Martin are revealed immediately prior to the entire city erupting in chaos. The year is 1906, and one of the most powerful earthquakes in history has just hit San Francisco.
While the drama of this novel revolves around an earthquake, it felt like a roller coaster!
The highs, lows, drops and turns that Sophie goes through were intense and emotional. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.
Meissner has such a gift with storytelling. I am always transported while reading her novels and it is hard not to become attached to her characters.
I do not read a lot of Historical Fiction, but I will continue to pick up anything Susan Meissner writes. I loved how she added a real mysterious tone to this novel. It’s intriguing from start to finish; there was never a lull in the pace.
This one didn’t bring me to tears as some of her other novels have, but it was definitely impactful nonetheless. Sophie’s story is one I will remember for a long time to come.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I really appreciate it and look forward to Meissner’s next release!