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As Bright as Heaven

by Susan Meissner

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner X
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2018
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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There are currently 42 member reviews
for As Bright as Heaven
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  • 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.
  • Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)


    Life, Death and Love
    This story follows the lives of four women in a family starting in 1918 and ending in 1926. It takes place in Philadelphia and, while it is during the Great War, it is also and chiefly about the Spanish Flu epidemic, which killed 12 million worldwide. The story is told by a mother and her three daughters in alternating chapters by each character. I felt like I knew the characters and became enmeshed in their lives and wanted to get back to the story every day. The family in the story are undertakers, but there is nothing ghoulish about it. It just seems like a necessary thing that someone has to do, and provides perspective about the amount of deaths there were from the epidemic.
  • Carole S. (Whittier, NC)


    As Bright As Heaven
    It was fascinating to learn more about the seldom discussed Spanish Flu of 1918, in Susan Meissner's historical fiction, As Bright as Heaven. This well told story is explained through the eyes of 3 sisters in a family who run a funeral home in Philadelphia. The subject matter is not always easy, yet there is much warmth, and excellent character development. The resiliency of the human spirit, despite
    huge set backs, and doing the best with what life hands you are the primary themes of this book. I looked forward to my time spent reading this one and am glad I chose this selection to review. I whole-heartedly recommend it to those curious about the Spanish Flu who want a feel good book with a love story to boot!

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