Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Publisher: Penguin Random House
“The world was different
after the flu and war. And so were we,” Evelyn quietly reflects in
Susan Meissner’s novel, As Bright as Heaven.
This four-hundred-page paperback book targets those who enjoy reading stories of love conquering all despite the trials and tribulations caused by the Spanish flu. With some profanity, its topics of illness, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments and the author’s note.
Set in 1918 in Philadelphia, the Bright family has moved from small town living to the city so the father can help his uncle with his mortuary business. Broken from the loss of their infant son, the couple, as well as their three daughters, try to start life anew until the Spanish flu arrives, unexpectedly taking more than one of those the love yet blessing them with another.
Through tears and heartbreak, the females write chapter by chapter of how they had to accept the tragedy of the illness and the ravages of war. While lies are told to protect the innocent and emotions are smothered to survive, the ever-changing family learns that Death is a quiet companion to everyone, including those loved.
Having read and enjoyed other books by the author, I love how she writes in first person through the mother and her three daughters as each experiences the effects of hardship. As the years pass and the girls mature, the book offers a completeness that is needed for redemption and acceptance when we lose someone we love.
Those who do not like tales of loss and sorrow from the massive deaths encircling the Spanish flu will not appreciate the intricate details of this read. Others may wish more of God’s hope of eternal salvation was offered instead of dwelling on the aspect of dying and death.
Being able to guess the ending at the three-quarter mark, I wish it was not as predictable when reading.
Focusing on how death is a part of life, Meissner does another phenomenal job tying the deep ache and sorrow of losing a dear relative to finding love among the heart-broken relationships.
Thanks to Bookpleasures and Penguin Random House for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.