Sunday, June 11, 2023

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner

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.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 18, 2023 
by Berkley
4/5 stars

Susan Meissner‘s latest book released this past April. Coming in at 400 pages, it's story about a 16 year old girl named Rosanne.

Beginning in 1938, Rosanne is taken in by the Calvert's after the death of her parents in an automobile accident . What transpires in the following years is sad as she deals with her grief and loneliness. After being banished by the Calvert's, her life takes a turn that was undeserving and heartbreaking.

Jump to 1947 when Helen Calvert returns to America after spending many years in Austria, seeing firsthand Hitler’s relentless pursuit of a purified nation.

This was a slow story at times, but it was also educational in the things that Rosanne went through. Only the Beautiful is a well written and researched story about a terrible part of US history. Susan Missner is one of my go to authors and again she did not disappoint. Even a month after I finished it has stayed with me.

If you are a fan of historical fiction based on fact, and have not tried this I highly recommend her.

My copy was obtained through my local public library.

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