"Only the Beautiful" by Susan Meissner

"Only the Beautiful" by Susan Meissner

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner
Five Stars
April 2024
Helen Calvert from California, spends decades as a nanny in Europe. Her life changes drastically when the Nazi government begins looking into families with children of special needs in their quest for a pure society. When the worse happens to a child in her care she is let go. It is then Helen begins helping other families whose children are in jeopardy. This chaos is a far cry from the world she grew up in the United States. Or so she thinks.
During the same time back in California, Helen’s brother Truman Calvert and his wife, rescue their employee’s orphan daughter from becoming a ward of the county after she tragically loses her family. Rosie’s father was the vinedresser of the vineyard owned by the Calvert’s. At first their actions appear charitable, but they only intend to train Rosie as a servant and dismiss any future besides it.
Rosie is not only grieving, she is fearful of her special ability. Since birth, when she hears sounds, she sees colors. Her special condition has already caused trouble for her at school, and when her mother was still alive, she made Rosie promise to never speak of it to anyone and the decision was made to take Rosie out of school when she was small. That is not the end of Rosie’s problems. When the Calvert’s discover she is pregnant, she is shipped off to a special place. Not a home for unwed mothers, but something worse.
And suddenly injustices, much like the Nazi’s quest for a pure society become a reality where Rosie has ended up.  The two story lines collide and Helen will become an advocate for Rosie.
The book brings to light the crimes against humanity on American soil. Although the subject matter is dark, the story is written and woven beautifully and is a pleasure to read. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I am a fan of this author. I appreciate a satisfying ending, if not a hopeful one. This book gives me both. - Kim Luke



Book Blurb-
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.

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