As Bright as Heaven

As Bright as Heaven

by Susan Meissner


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As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

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.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399585968
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 43,053
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Fall of Marigolds, Secrets of a Charmed Life, Stars over Sunset Boulevard, and A Bridge Across the Ocean among other novels.

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Chapter 1

Excerpted from "As Bright as Heaven"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Susan Meissner.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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As Bright as Heaven 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Books that invite me into a person’s heart and mind (fictional or real) captivate me. Beautifully crafted. I couldn’t put it down. Sometimes I feel like my mind is like a pinball machine with thoughts bouncing around and then emotion seeps into the trails of thought and joy or ache energizes the thoughts whether I want it to or not. Sometimes life seems very random and then a switch is flipped and it seems fate has walked beside you every step of the way. It’s random, patterned and weird! This book spoke to me and I listened, learned and enjoyed every minute of the conversation. Thank you for writing it!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Part 1 was intense; almost like I was there. Part 2 was too predictable; I felt like it was trying to make up for the harshness of part 1 and that happy ending was necessary.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I received a free e-reader copy of this book through the publisher. I fell in love with this author's writing style when I read A Bridge Across the Ocean and she continues to deliver a story with this book that is impossible to put down despite being a completely different setting and time period. I cared so much about the characters and what happens to them in the book. It made my heart soar and cringe as they grow up and evolve. I usually hate when a book skips several years, but in this case, it didn't detract from the story at all. Did you know that the Spanish Flu killed more people than the Black Plague? I certainly didn't, nor did my tween daughter who dressed up like a Black Plague Doctor for Halloween and loves those odd kind of facts. This is a historical fiction account of one family's experiences during the Spanish Flu in Philadelphia.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This historical fiction was well written and make you think about what you would do if you were in those situations. The characters were warm and inviting. Great read!
Nicnac63 10 months ago
This is the type of story that, upon reading the last page, you slowly close the book, close your eyes, sigh and reflect. So many emotions roil through your mind and it takes some thought to allow them to settle. I didn’t know what to expect from As Bright As Heaven. I’ve read other books by Susan Meissner, (Secrets of a Charmed Life is a favorite) so I was confident the author was a gifted storyteller who infuses deep emotion in her work, and I was drawn in by the exquisite cover art. But upon choosing a book to read, I normally only skim over the blurb to avoid learning ‘too much,’ so all I basically knew was the story was set in Philadelphia during the First World War. I’m glad I didn’t know more, because learning each aspect of the multi-faceted story as it happened surprised me, grabbed me, and refused to release me. The storyline is riveting, the storytelling is stunning, and each heartbreaking challenge encountered is delicately wrapped in the hope and strength of the human spirit. The story is presented in two parts, before the First World War and Spanish Flu pandemic (1918-1919) and after (1925.) The narration is voiced from the four riveting first-person points of view; the mother and three daughters of the Bright family—Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa. I became attached to each girl. They have distinct voices and views of the world, but I mostly connected and sympathized with Maggie. Perhaps because I’m also a middle sister. Not only was I drawn into the Bright’s story, and pulled into the early 1900s and the hardships and atrocities endured and succumbed to, but I also learned much about the history of the Influenza (Spanish Flu) pandemic—the deadliest disease in history! I also have a better understanding of what it meant to be the wife and daughter of an undertaker during this time period, how widespread the Spanish Flu was distributed, precautions taken (or not,) and how bodies were delivered, prepared, and presented (or not) during the outbreak. The Bright family finds themselves in a new city, new home, and new life after the death of their youngest Bright, only months-old, baby Henry. With death, war, sickness, and heartbreak around every corner, will they have the strength and desire to do more than exist in the new world they’ve been propelled into? Without giving you more of a description or breakdown of the story, I can tell you that you will learn a lot. You will most likely shed some tears, and find yourself in the circle of life and death, sadness and hope, heartbreak and healing. You might even wonder why you’re willingly putting yourself through such a host of emotions. But upon completion of the book, I doubt you’ll be able to forget a single member of the Bright family. And I’m also confident that you’ll be forever changed. Yes. It’s that powerful. As Bright As Heaven is much more than a story. It is a powerful, riveting, unforgettable experience. I received a complimentary copy of this book via BookPleasures.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings It is 1918 Philadelphia and this family moves from the country to the city for an opportunity that could change their life greatly for the better. They will become the local undertaker and operate and live in a funeral home. With three daughters and a recently deceased baby son, this family is in need of a change of scenery. One of the things that made me adore this book was that all three sisters and the mother narrated this book. Divided in small chapters, even the youngest was given an opportunity to tell the story from her point of view. I love when there are multiple narrators, but taking it to the next level and giving space to a young child was just fun.
witkneey01 More than 1 year ago
Once it begins, I never wanted it to end! And even after the book was over I wanted more… more of their lives, more of their stories, more of their hardships, more of their heartbreaks. This is not my first Susan Meissner novel, nor will it be my last. She has quickly become an author that every title she has written has been added to my TBR. I loved that while set in a time period that is often written about, I have never read a book that explored the Spanish Flu. And while the Flu was central to the story, it was more about the characters and how their lives were changed and affected. Hands down a wonderful read with engaging characters. They were flawed, they had heart, they had me invested in their stories equally. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!
CaitlinAllen More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. From the first page, I was drawn into this novel because of the immense amount of detail used. Meissner wonderfully showed the scenes and made it so easy to relate to the characters. I felt like I was in the Bright family while reading this novel, which always means the author did a fantastic job with it. During this novel, I could feel the emotions of the characters. I was experiencing their pain, joy, trauma, and love right along with them. I like how each main woman in this novel gets their own chapters. It made it so they all could be complexly developed that led to wanting to read more about each of the women. I was engrossed in each story and found that by highlighting each woman that their issues were able to be explored more deeply. I really enjoyed how Meissner wrote about a time in history that isn't in a lot of novels I read. It helped me get out of my comfort zone. It was different from my normal historical fiction, which is what made it so enjoyable.
Dana Blazsek More than 1 year ago
All the stars for this book that I could not put down and read in a day. Meissner tells us a heart wrenching story of the Brights who have moved to Philadelphia with the hope of a better life. What they get is heartbreak from the war overseas and the horrible influenza plague that has hit the city. • Wonderfully written and a family who is 100% unforgettable, Meissner takes us on a feel all the feels ride. Each Bright daughter has their own story that made me unable to stop reading. Each Bright girl made me smile. Each Bright girl made me cry. Each Bright girl will be read by many because I will recommend this book to anyone who will listen.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I laughed and I cried through this novel, the Bright family though, had to endure it all while I sat back and just watched, my emotions getting the best of me. The year was 1918 and this family was embarking on change. Having moved from Quakertown, they were now moving to the city, the city of Philadelphia where father would be one day taking over a family business. No more rolling tobacco and cigars, the family was going into the mortuary business. Mother wanted to be a part of this venture and originally, Uncle Fred confined her to the attached house. Mother and the children had no business being in the funeral home unless it was to help set up for services. Mother questioned why they were paying staff when she herself, could do their job and eventually Uncle Fred compromised. Mother was such a determined and caring individual. The war takes it toll on the city, first as it recruits and then as fatalities takes its citizens. It never ends as the Spanish Flu begins its tour and no one is immune from day one. Hitting the military and then the states, everyone is scared yet for the Bright Funeral Home, this is business. A business that has to start turning individuals away as they cannot keep up with the bodies that require their care. The family fears for their own safety yet where can they go to be “safe.” I hadn’t thought much about what life would be like living inside or working inside a funeral home until reading this novel. It all seems so peaceful but this is the result of many hours of demanding and hard work. The physical work is only a fraction of it. The emotional aspect of the job is what would separate many individuals from this line of work. An orphaned baby brings hope to the family yet inside, I felt there was something wrong about this whole situation. This child provided sunshine finally to the family yet soon darkness fell over the household. My tears fell freely and rapidly as I read as life changed within the funeral home. Everyone has been affected by the war and/or by the Spanish Flu, it amazed me how much devastation has occurred. Business is starting to slow down finally and the new normal is beginning to show its face. I was not ready to let go of this family and their lives in Philadelphia as the novel started to wind down. Their story was one that I really enjoyed. Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this novel to review in exchange for an honest review.
Darcy714 More than 1 year ago
Reminiscent of Little Women, Poignant and Hopeful Pauline Bright has just lost her son, and is in need of a change. When her husband’s uncle offers to let him become a partner in his funeral business, she jumps at the chance to leave their small town and transplant her three girls to Philadelphia with its distracting bustle. But moving to above a funeral parlor does not provide the distance to death she had hoped and soon after, her husband is drafted. Life is muted and the loss of lives due to the war is ever present in Evelyn, Maggie, Willa and Pauline’s minds when suddenly a more pressing threat closer to home emerges, the Spanish flu. Attacking the healthy instead of the old or very young, the flu rips through the city, robbing every household and making the funeral business balloon out of control with excess bodies. One day, while accompanying Pauline to bring food to the sick, Maggie finds a young baby, his mother dead from the flu and when no one reports looking for him, the Bright sisters and Pauline elect to keep him. As the flu continues to take from everyone around them, this baby gives them all a purpose to hold to in an increasingly upturned world. Susan Meissner’s work, As Bright as Heaven, is heartbreakingly poignant, presenting a single ray of hope in the midst of War and sickness that crystallizes and refracts from within the Bright household. Told from the points of view of the three sisters and their mother, Pauline, the bond between the women through tragedy is reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but set forward 50 years. Meissner deals with a lesser known area of history in the Spanish flu despite its devastating death toll. A beautiful tale of hope and loss, family and love. Disclaimer, I received an ARC of this book from Berkley Penguin Random House through Bookish First in Exchange for an honest review.
nyauthoress More than 1 year ago
As Bright As Heaven, set in Philadelphia during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, is a dramatic example of the resilience of the human spirit. Heartening and dramatic, the book releases February 2018 from Berkley Penguin Random House. As Bright As Heaven opens with a flash forward scene set in 1918. Pauline Bright stands over the grave where a child has been laid to rest. She falls into reverie about the child’s birth. With that, the story of how she and her husband Thomas came to relocate from a poor tobacco farm to Philadelphia quietly and powerfully reveals itself. The shroud of the Spanish flu epidemic is about to cover the city and the Bright family will be fiercely tested and impacted. Clouds of love and compassion enfold the gravitas of their circumstances. Meissner excels at her craft. Her writing astounds in prose and plot. The tenacity of the human spirit is a signature of her novels. Written with exquisite prose and articulate historical detail, her prose wafts over the reader, pages clipping by like lightning. As Bright As Heaven brims with unforeseen awakenings in the midst of loss. Narrated by various family members, the tension mounts as each reveal their experiences during the plague and experience emotional epiphanies. Characters are fully realized with distinctive personalities. We become completely absorbed into the lives, losses, and triumphs of the Bright family. Meissner includes detail on embalming a dead body, an absorbing side trip. See if you can figure out the surprise ending before you read it. Complex in depth with a sweet aftertaste, As Bright As Heaven is highly recommended. I thank Penguin Random House and Bookish First for the advance reader’s copy.
meigan More than 1 year ago
As Bright as Heaven is a story of love and loss and tragedy, but most importantly - hope. 1918 - the Bright family has relocated to Philadelphia from Allentown, PA, to live with Mr. Bright’s uncle and take over the family’s funeral business. Brimming with optimism in the face of such newfound prosperity, the Brights settle in and quickly adapt to their new lives and routines. But their routines and that new feeling of comfort is short-lived as the Great War is just beginning, the drafts have started, and Mr. Bright along with several beloved friends and neighbors are called to serve. On the heels of this tragedy, the Brights and the world at large are in the crosshairs of a new and invisible enemy - the Spanish Flu. As soon as I saw “Spanish flu”, this was a book I definitely wanted to get my hands on. Hailed as the one of the worst epidemics in human history, the Spanish flu of 1918 killed an estimated 50-100 million people in countries all over the world. An unimaginable and unfathomable tragedy, and Meissner deftly weaves in historically accurate details, making this fictional tale feel a bit more realistic. As Bright as Heaven is a story heavily laden with loss and tragedy and heartbreak, but it also showcases the strength and the resilience of the human spirit. The characters in this book have all been touched by death and their ability and sheer desire to endure in the face of such suffering was definitely a bright spot in this otherwise bleak and heart-wrenching tale. Highly recommended, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to discovering other books by this author. *I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways.
Jenea Whittington More than 1 year ago
As Bright as Heaven takes us through the journey of one families struggles and the little bits of joy during a terrible time. The Bright Family lived a simple life, but looking toward the future, they pack up their children and move to Philadelphia. Much bigger and better things are supposed to happen for them when they get there. The Great War is being fought and soon their father is called for duty, leaving them there to care of things without him. The Spanish Flu is going around, and taking people quickly. But these Bright women, young or adult, step up and do what is needed to be done. This is told in alternating POV’s from Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa. Sometimes with multiple POV’s it can be a little overwhelming and confusing, but that is certainly not the case here. Pauline and her daughters have their own distinct personalities and traits that distinguish them from each other. From chapter to chapter the story is giving a little at a time, just through different eyes. I did’t know much about some of the events that took place during this particular war or the Spanish Flu. So they way this was told, was a wonderful way to see it all. We see each of their feelings and thoughts, through the events that occurred, it was raw and emotional. I felt their joy, their fear and the losses, and it just heart broke over and over. Pauline and her girls were so amazing and strong, and the sheer determination they each had was something that will stick with you. There were times that each of these women made some decisions that weren’t the best, but they did what they needed to do to survive. And their hearts were always in the right place and the lessons they learned were harsh to say the least, because the horrific and tragic events they endured was palpable. I adored each and every one of them. This family might have lost so much along the way, but in some ways they gained even more. Even through all the devastation, the resiliency, love and loyalty comes through every page. As Bright as Heaven delivers a breathtaking story of strength, grief, love and learning live each day to the fullest. I simply can not say enough about this, it is certainly one that will stay with me, it was beautifully written and I was enthralled from the first page. I would recommend this to anyone that will listen, pick it up.
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
A very different story - with an unusual setting (a funeral home) set during the time of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. I loved the way the story flowed - with chapters going from one sister to the other. I really loved that this story was so unique.
CoffeeAndAStory More than 1 year ago
"It's as if the body is a candle and the soul is its flame. When the flame is snuffed out, all that is left to prove that there had been a flame is the candle, and even that we only have for a little while. Even the candle is not ours to keep. And yet how we care for that candle for that stretch of time that it is still ours! How we want to remember the shape and fragrance of the little flame it held." - "This flu is like a black shroud that has been flung across everything that breathes under the canopy of heaven, and if you could stand back far enough you wouldn't see all the people it touches, only the immense length and breadth of its expanse." - I could keep posting quote after quote from this beautifully-written novel. I counted and I highlighted 25 quotes from this book. The concept of a family running an undertaking business during the greatest epidemic the world has ever seen was a subject I was excited to read about. They lived in Philadelphia, which of all the cities in the United States, was probably hit the hardest. I read the book The Great Influenza by John M. Barry last year and the author mentioned she read that book as research for this one. I think it would be a great companion read to this to better understand the impact the flu had. The first third of this book goes slowly, and I almost stopped reading, but I'm glad I didn't. The author spent time developing the characters and it really shows. Maggie was definitely my favorite character, but I also liked Pauline and cute little Willa. There was a plot point that was very predictable to me, but that didn't take away from the story too much. The strengths of this book were the characters and their awareness of how death brings a new understanding and appreciation of humanity. I wish I had been able to read this book years ago when I lost someone very dear to me. Its messages would have brought comfort to my heart trying to make sense of grief and loss. You will need tissues while reading this book, but the ending is a good one, I promise. I gave this book four stars out of five. Graceful, poignant, and meaningful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1918 When Pauline Bright gave birth to baby Henry after having three girls, Evie, Maggie, and Willa, the family was thrilled. But, sadly his little heart was not strong enough to keep him alive. Shortly after he passed away, the family moved to Philadelphia where Pauline’s husband, Thomas, would work with his Uncle Fred who owned Bright Funeral Home. The family finds their new home to be quite large, modern, and well-furnished. Uncle Fred tells them that they will live upstairs over the funeral parlor and that Pauline and the girls are not allowed in the business area of the house. Pauline resents this because she is ready and willing to help in the business. Eventually, she is allowed to help with fixing the makeup and hair of the recently deceased. As the family settles in, the war becomes a reality and all able-bodied men age 46 and under are eligible to fight. Thomas decides to join up and serve in the medical field. Not long afterward, the Spanish flu hits the area with a vengeance shutting down schools, shops, and even the streetcars. The flu is very contagious and people are dying in huge numbers. Before it is over, millions of people worldwide will have died. Illness strikes the Bright family and grief follows. When Maggie finds a baby clinging to life in a home where the other family members appear to have perished from the flu, she brings him home and the family adopts him. They name him Alex and feel that God has sent him to them to make up for the loss of baby Henry. This story follows each of the daughters as they adjust to their new home, make new friends, and learn about the funeral business. We see heartbreak but their close knit family helps them through many tragedies. I found this book to be fascinating. The author takes us through an important time in history and brings it to life for the reader. I loved her book, “A Bridge Across the Ocean” and have been eagerly looking forward to reading this one. Congratulations to a very talented author.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
The year is 1918 and the place is Philadelphia. Susan Meissner delivers a compelling and bittersweet story in her latest novel, As Bright as Heaven. Thomas and Pauline Bright wanted nothing more than to give their three girls, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa a better life. After the tragic loss of their sweet baby boy, Henry, it was time for a new beginning. It was time to leave the tobacco farms of Quakertown behind and look toward the new future Fred, Thomas’ brother was offering. It would be a different life for the girls—trading tobacco curing barns for undertaking. Fred Bright has a successful burial business in Philadelphia and wants to turn it all over to his brother Thomas. Even though her beloved child Henry has died, Pauline resists the notion of moving. However, the more intimate she becomes with the notion of death and the unrelenting hold loss has on her, Pauline realizes she will never be able to bring Henry back. There is nothing left holding her to Quakertown other than her parents and extended family. It is not enough, and she has a revelation that it is time to put the sorrow behind her and focus on the beautiful children she has who are still alive and provide a future for them. The girls have their own reservations. Evelyn (Evie) being the oldest is their logical child. She must maintain a stiff upper lip and convince her younger siblings that life in Philadelphia will be grand. Maggie, on the other hand, is the free spirit. She sees life in a different light and cannot seem to grasp the concept of a better life than the one she already has. Aside from the loss of dear Henry, she believes things will get better. Willa, the baby, simply wants what all youngest siblings want: center stage and constant attention. Initially, the move from the rural likes of Quakertown to the city streets of Philadelphia are more than foreign and overwhelming. Uncle Fred, Thomas’ brother, never having married has strict designs on what a woman’s place is in the home and far be it for him to acquiesce even a notion of Pauline or the girls ever setting foot in the embalming salon. Time moves forward, and the Great War persists across the sea. When the epic pandemic of the Spanish Flu hits the city streets of Philadelphia and the surrounding communities, the Bright family is about to face greater challenges in their day-to-day battle with survival as their constant reminder of the unknown in the days that lie ahead. I was instantly captivated with this story. Ms. Meissner set the realities to paper of the pandemic tragedy of the Spanish Flu and assigned the horrors of the havoc it reaped on all its victims. The historical infusion she wove in and around the characters she created was fascinating. This may be a work of historical fiction, but her documentation of what happened to entire communities because of this illness breathed intense credibility throughout this story. It is difficult to fathom the period in this novel is a mere 100 years ago; yet, Ms. Meissner has a wonderful ability to impart several layers of varied emotion for her audience to revel in with the turn of each page. My only regret in reading this novel is that point when I arrived at the last page. A true master of her art, she ties the entire story up into a neat bow at story’s end; leaving her audience with the anticipation of her next novel. Well done Ms. Meissner! I look forward to your next book.
lostinmegalpolis More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I'm not sure if this book knew what it wanted to be, which might sound strange. As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner focuses on the tragedies during and after the 1918 Flu Pandemic in Philadelphia. This honestly sounds perfect to me. As somebody who lives in Philly and also works in museums on such a topic, I could not wait to read this book. Also, it follows the lives of three sisters, and a mother. All told from their perspectives. The first half of the book was addicting as it crafts this delicate world during WWI. The family moves to Philadelphia to work in a funeral home. Then the flu strikes. Yet that was not even the most interesting part. Nonetheless, I could not wait to find out what happened next only to find out the book kept going on and on into the 1920s. There were a handful of surprising plot elements that I guess added intrigue to the situation. I personally felt like it took away from the tragedy of the Spanish Flu, but that may be me. I would still recommend this book especially if you are interested in the early 20th Century, we rarely have books that delve into such a time, that allow us to immerse ourselves into such lives.
RaeOH More than 1 year ago
A Wonderful Read! First of all, thank you to BookishFirst and @berkleypub for the advanced copy I won. I was anxious to read this one as soon as I read a little piece of it. This story takes place in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918. Not something I knew much about but Susan Meissner made you feel like you were there. Her descriptions made you see it and when out in my daily life, when I heard coughing I flinched as I was living this book. This is a story of hope, love and surviving tragedy. You first meet the Bright family as they suffer a tragic loss and decide to go live with an uncle in the city. The dad is to learn the undertaking trade. The three daughters aren't so sure about this but they adjust along with mom and life starts OK until the flu hits. You can picture how awful it was and what everyone endured. The story does move on from there and they adjust to live again and to loving. One of the parts that stayed with me is a reference to how we are like butterflies and on earth for only a brilliant moment. I loved that sentiment. Look this book up and give it a read. You will be touched.
mrs2a50 More than 1 year ago
Another great Meissner story! First, I am such a fan of Meissner's writing, and her innate ability to transport the reader to another place and time - key to a great historical fiction book. You feel like you are experiencing everything right along with the characters. Her other talent is to entertain AND teach - her books that I've read have been just as educational as they are enjoyable to read. She does her research, and it shows in her stories. I feel like I'm learning so much! Specifically on this book, it's the story of a family and their experience with the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919. But that's far too simple. It's also about love, loss, grief, family, hope, resilience. The characters are amazing - I loved their individual personalities and how those were revealed as the storyline developed. The alternating chapter voices worked so well here! As usual with Meissner, the four women are authentic and real. They deal with tragedy and loss and witness so much suffering, but work through it to regain their lives and find happiness. There's a lot of emotion (bring your tissues). Truly a fantastic read!
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
The Spanish Flu? I had heard of it but never read a book centered around it. I’ve read books set in the WWI era but most of them centered on the war. While this book did include the war and how it was affecting the United States this was not a war book. The family, the Bright Family, is amazing. I love this family. The dynamic between husband and wife is so sweet and true that you could feel their love coming right off the pages. Add in the children and you know that there will never be more love in a family. These parents will do anything to keep their family safe, loved, and together. I really liked that each character was able to tell their story in alternating chapters. As a reader I read each chapter loving that I could learn more about the characters personally, learn their thoughts, their feelings, and what they truly were like. I recommend picking up your own copy and enjoying this wonderful family, learn their secrets, and watch them grow together.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
The Spanish Flu? I had heard of it but never read a book centered around it. I’ve read books set in the WWI era but most of them centered on the war. While this book did include the war and how it was affecting the United States this was not a war book. The family, the Bright Family, is amazing. I love this family. The dynamic between husband and wife is so sweet and true that you could feel their love coming right off the pages. Add in the children and you know that there will never be more love in a family. These parents will do anything to keep their family safe, loved, and together. I really liked that each character was able to tell their story in alternating chapters. As a reader I read each chapter loving that I could learn more about the characters personally, learn their thoughts, their feelings, and what they truly were like. I recommend picking up your own copy and enjoying this wonderful family, learn their secrets, and watch them grow together.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Pauline, Thomas and their three children move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania so that they can have a better life. This opportunity arises out of the kindness and generosity of Thomas’s Uncle, a mortician who is childless and wants to leave his business to Thomas. Before they came, this family lost a child, Henry, but rather than fearing what lies ahead in taking on the learning of how to prepare dead people for final viewing and burial, Pauline is more than open to the idea and oddly calm. For she believes Death is a constant spiritual presence in her life since she lost her son and thinks she will hear a message at the right time. Readers may have heard the famous poem about death having no sting or power, and this comes to mind as the children, Evelyn, Pamela, and Willa, not only adapt to their father’s new job but also want to be a part of it. They not only follow the lead of their parents but also seem to have an uncanny perception that death is not to be feared. They are about to be sorely tested! No spoilers here, but suffice to say that the coming of the Spanish flu epidemic to Philadelphia in 1918 almost defies description but the author deftly presents the overwhelming nature of this catastrophic illness. The family will suffer more staggering losses but will also gain a child who they adopt after mysterious circumstances, an occurrence that will come full circle years later. There is a lightness to the way this story is presented that is almost beautiful, hardly a word one would think of in the face of such a disaster for thousands of people. Each child is obviously so touched by this historical event that it affects their future career choices. While it might seem contrived at times, Meissner manages to favorably wrap all the loose ends together by the end of the story. As Bright as Heaven is certainly a memorable novel that highlights character and historical event development – highly recommended historical fiction.
Cora More than 1 year ago
Fabulous read. This story takes place during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. It is a very emotional story and tells you how dark and depressing time it was. I loved how Susan Meissner had you follow the life of the Bright daughters. I was able to feel every emotion that was conveyed throughout the book. This book will have you in tears, smiling, shaking your head & even elated.