Tuesday, April 25, 2023

BLOG TOUR - Only the Beautiful

Title:  Only the Beautiful 
Author Susan Meissner
Publisher:  Berkley
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   400
Date of Publication:   April 18, 2023
My Rating:   5 Stars

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.


Roseanne was a special girl with a special gift. She tragically lost her family at the age of 16, so she then resided with the Calvert family who were vineyard owners. Becoming pregnant at the age of seventeen, as well as the gift of seeing colors based on how sounds came out, led Rose to be institutionalized. Despite her difficulties as a child, a teenager and a young adult, there was at least one person who favored her, and that was Truman Calvert’s sister Helen. Although it was only by means of infrequent correspondence, the connection Rose had to Helen was just the light of hope that she needed. 

Rose’s difficulties at the institution were tragic, especially when the treatments she received were thrust upon her. These passages truly broke my heart. As the story segued to Helen, her life went through its own changes, and although she had a lot more joy than Rose experienced, she dealt with a heartbreaking loss as well. 

This book really opened my eyes, especially considering the title, Only the Beautiful. How the Germans felt and got away with how people with disabilities were treated was utterly despicable. I had not heard much about forced sterilizations - eugenics - during WWII until I read this book. There was also sanctioned killing of those “less desirable “, less perfect, and reading this really saddened me. Meissner did a fabulous job bringing those dark days of the second war era to light, but also to bring things full circle in this touching book. 

Many thanks to Berkley 
and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling novelist with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her critically acclaimed works of historical fiction have been named to numerous lists including Publishers Weekly’s annual roster of 100 best books, Library Reads Top Picks, Real Simple annual tally of best books, Goodreads Readers’ Choice awards, Booklist’s Top Ten, and Book of the Month. 

She attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper. Susan’s expertise as a storyteller and her thoroughly researched topics make her a favorite author of book clubs everywhere. Her engaging and warm speaking style appeal to all manner of women’s groups, literary organizations, libraries and learning institutions, and service clubs.

When she is not working on a new novel, she enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with her family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

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