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    The latest novel by Susan Meissner

    As Bright As Heaven is the latest novel by Susan Meissner which is set in 1918. Pauline and Thomas Bright along with their family are relocating from Quakertown to Philadelphia. Thomas has been offered the opportunity to work with his uncle, Fred Bright and eventually inherit the Bright Funeral Home. Pauline is hoping it will provide a better life for their family (three daughters: Evelyn, Willa and Maggie) and, after losing her six-month-old son, she feels that Death is near her. A few months later, Thomas is drafted and their neighbor’s son, Jamie Sutcliff goes off to training camp. Then the Spanish Flu arrives with a vengeance and thousands are dying. Pauline and Maggie are taking food to those without family to assist them. Maggie is waiting for her mother and hears a baby crying. She finds the infant’s mother dead, and Maggie feels the baby is a replacement for the brother she lost. The Bright family takes in the child and names him Alex. But then Willa becomes ill with the dreaded flu and Pauline is the next to become infected. Amidst sickness and war there is hope with little Alex. The Bright family will need to band together during this difficult time and find a way to move forward. As Bright As Heaven has a unique point-of-view with the Spanish Flu (instead of focusing on the war). The POV switches between Pauline and the three daughters (told in first person). We get to see life through each of their eyes with each person providing a unique perspective given their ages (Willa is the youngest at 6). It does, though, disrupt the flow of the book (pulls you out of the story). The book is nicely written, but I did find the pace a little slow during the first half of the story. It picks up in the second half as the girls grow older. I thought it was intriguing that Evelyn goes to medical school and is working to become a psychiatrist. This was very unusual for a woman in the 1920s. The characters are well developed, and I appreciated the strong female characters. The author did a good job at portraying the time period, the panic and horror of the Spanish Flu epidemic, how the war affected families, and the changing roles of women in America during the 1920s. As Bright As Heaven has love, sorrow, hope, grief, tragedy, fear and so much more. Get swept back in time in Susan Meisner’s latest novel As Bright As Heaven. Readers who enjoy historical dramas will enjoy reading As Bright As Heaven.

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