Book Spotlight: Only the Beautiful

Susan Meissner is an author I’ve been planning to start reading, and now that she has a new book out, that urge is even stronger. Today, her novel Only the Beautiful hits shelves. It follows two timelines: In 1938, newly orphaned Rosanne moves in with the owners of a California vineyard. When she becomes pregnant, she’s banished and ends up at a home for unwed mothers and faces even worse circumstances. A decade later, in Austria, the sister of the vineyard owner was witness to the horrors Hitler committed and is ready to return to California. But she’s shocked at how her brother and sister-in-law banished young Rosanne nine years earlier and is determined to find her.

Only the Beautiful looks like such an emotional and powerful story. While WWII looms in the background, it focuses on the different, but all-too-real, horrors that affect people at home and away from the war zone. It seems like a timely portrayal of unplanned pregnancies, the stigmatization young mothers can face, and the downward spiral that comes from losing family and support when you need it most.

Find out more about it below, and let me know if you’re planning to pick up Only the Beautiful. If you’ve already read it, let me know how you liked it in the comments! I’m hoping to read it soon, so stay tuned for my review.

Official Summary

A heartrending story about a young mother’s fight to keep her daughter, and the winds of fortune that tear them apart by the USA Today 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.

Get the Book

You can buy Only the Beautiful here – it’s available as a hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner
GenreHistorical Fiction; Women’s Fiction
SettingCalifornia; Austria
Number of Pages400
Original Publication DateApril 18, 2023

About the Author

Susan Meissner

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.

More Books by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner - As Bright as Heaven
Susan Meissner - The Nature of Fragile Things
Susan Meissner - The Last Year of the War

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