Historical Fiction

Book Review – As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

My Opinion:

This is a compelling, heartbreaking story of love and family!

Susan Meissner has done it again! She has crafted an amazing, eye-opening story that is nearly impossible to put down. This is the first time I have read a book focusing on the Spanish Flu. I have certainly heard of it, but had no idea how devastating it was world wide. It took an astounding number of lives. It didn’t matter whether you were young, old, rich, or poor, it sickened and killed people by the thousands.

Thomas and Pauline Bright made the move from Quakertown to Philadelphia following their young son’s death. The family is moving in with Thomas’s Uncle Fred and Thomas will be learning the family business. It is quite the adjustment for the whole family, moving from the country to the big city. It has its ups and downs and proves to be a bit challenging for the children.

The story is told from the perspective of Pauline and her three school age daughters – Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa. There is always a risk of a lot of overlap when an author uses four voices to tell a story, but in this book there was virtually no overlap. Each character has a unique voice and perspective of the events that took place, from Willa’s childlike perspective to Pauline’s optimism while making a fresh start in a new city for her family.

This story is a great example of how we don’t travel through life in a straight line. We are all given challenges along the way and it is how we handle those challenges and our decisions that make us who we are.

At times this story is gut-wrenching, emotional and intense, but underneath all that it is also a story of hope, love, and most of all family. You might want to keep a tissue box handy for this one! It had me a bit choked up on more than one occasion.

Book Details:

My Rating: 5/5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: None
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: 2/6/2018
Pages:  (eBook) 395

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24 thoughts on “Book Review – As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

  1. I agree with absolutely everything here! I loved the varied pacing and perspectives and how everything still flowed beautifully. I’m so glad you loved this as much as I did!


  2. Nice review!! I’d read a review by someone else of this book too and thought it sounded quite good. I’ve always been interested in learning about the devastation of the Spanish Flu epidemic. I’m adding it to my tbr. My tbr is toppling over!

    Liked by 1 person

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