Advance reader reviews of As Bright as Heaven

As Bright as Heaven

by Susan Meissner

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Feb 6, 2018
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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There are currently 25 member reviews
for As Bright as Heaven
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  • Patricia E. (Sugarcreek, OH)


    Historical Fiction at It's Best
    I learned to appreciate historical fiction through the words of Susan Meissner, so I was delighted to open As Bright As Heaven. In this captivating story, the author uses both World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic as her backdrop. The novel is told alternately among Mrs. Bright and her three daughters as they leave rural Pennsylvania and move to Philadelphia. There Mr. Bright has accepted an offer to work in his uncle's mortuary and live in the attached residence.

    This setting gives each character a unique perspective on death and the lives it leaves behind. Having already lost a young son and brother, the Bright family members are learning how to survive and thrive in one of the world's darkest eras. For me, though, the novel contains more light than dark, greater hope than despair and is the best of Meissner's books to date.
  • Candace F. (Lincoln, NE)


    Not to be missed!
    If you are a fan of historical fiction this book should be at the top of your list. After reading The Nightingale I didn't think there would be a book I liked as well but this book has proven me wrong. This book is so well written that as I read it became a motion picture playing in my mind. The setting of the Pandemic of the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 was a topic I had read little about. It takes place in a mortuary in Philadelphia at the time of the outbreak and Great War and the story of the Bright family. The author developed the characters so well I feel like I knew them personally. When I had finished reading the book and asked myself who was my favorite character, my answer was "all of them".

    Since I read this book I have read two other books by Susan Meissner. She is definitely one of my favorite authors. As Bright As Heaven will definitely be a book I recommend to all my friends and a book choice for my book group. This is one I will read again.
  • Patricia L. (Seward, AK)


    True Endurance
    "The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 was the deadliest disease in history...Fifty million people worldwide are estimated to have died from Spanish Flu." acknowledges author Susan Meissner. Her novel As Bright As Heaven chronicles the disease through one family's experiences. Pauline and Thomas are moving to Philadelphia to take over Uncle Fred's undertaking business. No longer do families care for the deceased in their own homes. Now they deliver the body to the undertaker, allow him to do all the preparation and funeral planning. What is thought to be a new beginning for them and their three daughters begins to unravel as friends and family begin to fall ill. The story unfolds slowly at first but each character is well known by the time the unraveling begins.
    I found this book fascinating and difficult to put down. While we generally remember 1918-19 as the time period of the Great War, which also figures prominently in the novel, the Spanish Flu is usually a mere footnote to the time. This novel puts these events in grisly perspective with the intimate telling of one family's story and leaves one to wonder how others, possibly those close, were similarly impacted. Highly recommended to gain a most humbling respect for those who endured the era.
  • Amy E. (Delaware, OH)


    As Bright As Heaven
    The book is set in Philadelphia in 1918 during the Spanish Flu epidemic. The author tells the story through the voices of Pauline Bright and her 3 daughters. By telling the story of a very difficult time from the perspective of the different ages, the author keeps the reader engaged and even hopeful. She peppers the story with insights that offer hope for humanity in the event of another pandemic. I enjoyed the book and was sad to see my involvement with the Bright family ending. Much of this was due to Ms. Meissner's writing. I would recommend the book and plan to have my gook club read it and I will also review it for another book club of which I am a member.
  • Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)


    Decisions
    This story is all about choices and decisions. Very sweet story about family, tragedies and how people deal with life.
  • Carol S. (Mt. Juliet, TN)


    As Bright as Heaven
    I was captivated by the setting of this story in Philadelphia during the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic and America's entrance into The Great War.

    My parents lived in there as young children during this devastating epidemic. I spent much time in the city in my own childhood, exploring places mentioned in the book like Wanamaker's Department Store.

    That the Bright family lived in and helped to run a funeral home during those tragic times proved to be a sombre but ultimately hopeful setting for this story. The presence of death as it touched the lives of these family members and their friends was unforgettable and very moving.

    Alternating chapters, from the point of view of each female character in the family, offered a window for the reader to experience firsthand the hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows of these women as they tried to cope with the challenges of their lives. I felt I knew Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa very well by the end of the story.

    I enjoyed this novel immensely and praise Susan Meissner's lyrical and gentle prose. Looking forward to reading her other books.
  • Barbara P. (Hixson, TN)


    Beautiful prose, beautiful book
    Historical fiction is my favorite and this book ranks in the top ten, in my opinion. The story takes place in 1918 Philadelphia, PA during the Spanish flu epidemic. One becomes part of a family, that you feel a part of, through the authors beautiful prose. It is heartbreaking as well as joyful as the author describes how one family grows through the turmoil of this time.

    I am looking forward to reading more by Susan Meissner.

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