As Bright as Heaven

As Bright as Heaven

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 mont...

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Title:As Bright as Heaven
Author:Susan Meissner
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Edition Language:English

As Bright as Heaven Reviews

  • Hazel Gaynor

    I was very lucky to read an ARC of Susan Meissner's forthcoming novel and it totally swept me away. Beautifully written and vividly imagined, AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN is a mesmerizing portrayal of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, a devastating event in our global history that I haven't read about in such depth before. The author deals with the subject with grace and sensitivity, while drawing the reader into the wonderfully constructed world of her female protagonists - a mother and her three daught

    I was very lucky to read an ARC of Susan Meissner's forthcoming novel and it totally swept me away. Beautifully written and vividly imagined, AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN is a mesmerizing portrayal of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, a devastating event in our global history that I haven't read about in such depth before. The author deals with the subject with grace and sensitivity, while drawing the reader into the wonderfully constructed world of her female protagonists - a mother and her three daughters - who move into a funeral home just before the outbreak of the flu epidemic. I walked every step with Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa around their unusual and atmospheric home, and around the flu-stricken streets of Philadelphia. Brilliantly researched and emotionally charged, this is a novel which will linger long in the memory.

  • Lisa Wingate

    One of the loveliest benefits of author life is being given the opportunity to peruse upcoming books before they make their way to the rest of the world. When an early copy of Bright as Heaven came my way (still in a plain white wrapper, no gorgeous cover yet), I couldn't wait to crack open the pages. Rich in historical detail, Bright as Heaven is a vivid journey into an almost unimaginable time. Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa face loss, transition, change, and uncertainty with grace and resi

    One of the loveliest benefits of author life is being given the opportunity to peruse upcoming books before they make their way to the rest of the world. When an early copy of Bright as Heaven came my way (still in a plain white wrapper, no gorgeous cover yet), I couldn't wait to crack open the pages. Rich in historical detail, Bright as Heaven is a vivid journey into an almost unimaginable time. Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa face loss, transition, change, and uncertainty with grace and resilience as they come to life on the pages. Kudos to Susan Meissner for spinning this skillfuly-told tale and illuminating a fascinating slice of American history.

  • Cindy Burnett

    Sue Meissner’s books just get better and better with each new one; every time I pick up her latest book I hope that it will be as good as her last ones, and instead I end up liking the newest one the most. Very few authors can sustain that level of excellence; it is quite an impressive feat. As Bright as Heaven is simply fantastic: Meissner’s tale is fascinating, heartbreaking and an all-around beautifully written book. Moreover, her characters are well-developed, authentic and believable. Using

    Sue Meissner’s books just get better and better with each new one; every time I pick up her latest book I hope that it will be as good as her last ones, and instead I end up liking the newest one the most. Very few authors can sustain that level of excellence; it is quite an impressive feat. As Bright as Heaven is simply fantastic: Meissner’s tale is fascinating, heartbreaking and an all-around beautifully written book. Moreover, her characters are well-developed, authentic and believable. Using the four Bright females as narrators was a solid and effective choice; their various stories are slowly unfurled as the pages fly by. Each female character has a distinct personality, and I was constantly awestruck at how Meissner chose the perfect individual to reveal a particular secret or fact.

    I knew virtually nothing about the Spanish Flu epidemic in the United States (I knew that it had devastated parts of Europe) at the end of World War 1 before I read As Bright as Heaven. Learning about events like this is one of my favorite things about historical fiction, and I especially enjoyed that aspect in this book because it was a significant event about which I am glad I now know occurred. In her Author’s Note, Meissner states that the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 was the deadliest disease in history, significantly worse than the Black Plague, and she chose it because it was an untold story. I am so glad that she did.

    There are times when I am reading a novel, and the events occurring are such that I cannot see an ending that will be satisfactory to me. There were two such plot lines in As Bright as Heaven. Without including any spoilers, Meissner managed to wrap both issues up successfully (one better than the other but both reasonable resolutions) which I felt was no small feat.

    I highly, highly recommend As Bright as Heaven. I received an advance review copy of this book from the Great Thought’s Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own.

  • Dorie

    I had previously read “A Bridge Across The Ocean” by Ms. Meissner and I was anxious to read this new novel. Wow, it is one of the best books that I have read this year!!! The prose is beautiful and flowing and amongst all of the heartache and physical and emotional difficulties the human spirit shines brightly!

    The setting is Philadelphia around 1917 and on. The Bright family, husband Thomas, wife Pauline and their three daughters have just moved to Philadelphia from a poor tobacco town to join T

    I had previously read “A Bridge Across The Ocean” by Ms. Meissner and I was anxious to read this new novel. Wow, it is one of the best books that I have read this year!!! The prose is beautiful and flowing and amongst all of the heartache and physical and emotional difficulties the human spirit shines brightly!

    The setting is Philadelphia around 1917 and on. The Bright family, husband Thomas, wife Pauline and their three daughters have just moved to Philadelphia from a poor tobacco town to join Tom’s uncle’s funeral business. The Bright’s have recently lost their young infant son and have decided that a move would be a positive thing for them, a new environment, better education for their girls, a solid well paying job for Tom with the knowledge that he will someday inherit the funeral business from his childless uncle.

    The novel is so multi-layered that it’s difficult to do it justice in a review. It is told from multiple perspectives of family members. The war begins to really rage in Europe and soon even Tom, in his 40’s, is called to serve. Not long after their father leaves the Spanish flu begins to spread it’s ugly tentacles across the US, having started in Europe. Many soldiers have died while in service and they also return to the US forts and hospitals and the flu spreads like a wildfire. I didn’t know much about this terrible time but Ms. Meissner has done extensive research and there is a wealth of knowledge here. She helps us see the extent of the human suffering, the victims falling to the disease so quickly, the undertakers and gravediggers can’t work fast enough or provide enough caskets for the dead. In the end it’s told that around 10,000 people in Philadelphia alone died from the flu.

    It’s at this time that Pauline and her daughter Maggie volunteer to take food to the sick and Maggie hears the cry of a baby, enters his home and finds his dead mother and what she believes to be his dying sister. She bundles the filthy, untended baby in her coat and returns to her mother. They take in the child and raise it as their own having provided all of the information that they know to the police and other authorities.

    The family experiences the horror of the flu as their mother, Pauline, dies. Through the years, as their father returns from the war to care for the children and eventually run the funeral home they experience happiness again.

    There are so many interesting stories of the girls, their interests, loves and losses that are all well developed and I felt as though I knew each of the girls. This book made me realize that the flu in the end claimed almost one third of the population in the world, more than all of the soldiers that died in the World Wars. It’s hard to even imagine a devastating disease such as this ever happening again, but there is always that chance that science may not be able to keep up with the ever changing viruses.

    I would recommend this book to everyone, there is so much to like about this book. The interesting plot with well researched facts, the well rounded characters believable and incredible and the writing flows like a river. Buy this book, read it and pass it on, it’s that good.

    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, thank you.

  • Diane S ☔

    1918, Philadelphia, a city with many opportunities, a city that the Bright family, Pauline, Thomas and their three daughters move to for just that purpose. Thomas's elderly, childless uncle wants them to live in his large house, and for Thomas to train and takeover his mortuary business. Leaving Quakertown behind, this is what the family looks forward to, a new and better life, especially after the tragedy of a terrific loss.

    I fell in love with this family, and we hear individually from each of

    1918, Philadelphia, a city with many opportunities, a city that the Bright family, Pauline, Thomas and their three daughters move to for just that purpose. Thomas's elderly, childless uncle wants them to live in his large house, and for Thomas to train and takeover his mortuary business. Leaving Quakertown behind, this is what the family looks forward to, a new and better life, especially after the tragedy of a terrific loss.

    I fell in love with this family, and we hear individually from each of them in alternating chapters. Things look promising for them but then the Spanish flu comes to call, an unwelcome Spector that causes further loss. Such a winning combination of characters, history and a first hand look at the devastation of War. The Spanish flu hit Philadelphia extremely hard, the hardest in the nation and caused untold hardship and heartache for many. The Bright family will lose much but also gain a baby in an unusual manner, and this child will keep the family moving forward.

    We watch as the girls grow, but there is a secret one is keeping that will come back to haunt. Prohibition is also instated at this time so we also are treated to a look at some of the results of this act. This is a wonderfully told story, rich in family, love, and history. So many details make this book stand out, details for n the mortuary business and in everyday lives. Sorrows and hurts, joys and happiness. An immersive story that tugs at the heart.

    ARC from bookbrowse and publisher.

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