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As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

As Bright as Heaven

by Susan Meissner

  • Critics' Consensus:
  • Published:
  • Feb 2018
    400 pages
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Page 4 of 6
There are currently 42 member reviews
for As Bright as Heaven
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  • Vicky R. (Roswell, GA)
    Bright as Heaven
    I have read 4 books by this author and have found all of them fascinating. I love how she incorporates history into her novels while making you feel you are personally connected to the characters. The subject matter in this story was rather unique and interesting: the Spanish Flu ravages America, and as this pandemic tears a path through their hometown, we see how one family is torn apart from the devastation and loss.
  • Marie D. (Waretown, NJ)
    As Bright As Heaven, a tale of life, death — and love
    Perhaps my rating of this very well written book has been tainted by its powerful account of death and dying. The process of the end of life and detailed preparation for burial was difficult to read, but offered an insight to the reality of how our physical bodies are just clay.

    The characters' stories are told in alternating chapters which initially caused this reader some confusion. I have read statistical accounts of the 1919 flu pandemic before, but Susan Meissner brings forth a very personal and intimate look at the pain and suffering endured by families already coping with great losses in The Great War.

    "As Bright As Heaven" beautifully describes how rich even a poor family can feel when surrounded by love of one another, and faith in God.
  • Lillian T. (Orlando, FL)
    A big screen prospect
    This is the first book I have read from this author and it was provided to me as an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

    I enjoyed reading As Bright as Heaven very much and consider it a great read especially for Adults and Young Adults and also for Book Clubs, since there are themes and events presented throughout the book which can lead to an interesting discussion.

    The author sets her historical fiction book in the year of 1918, when the Spanish Flu was considered the deadliest disease in history, resulting in worldwide deaths of 50 to 100 million people. The novel As Bright as Heaven narrates this historical event and its impact on the Bright family who at the time lived in Philadelphia.

    If you like reading Historical Fiction mixed with love, loss, fate, decisions, sacrifice, war, death, tragedy and more, don't miss on this one. You won't regret it.
  • Eileen C. (New York, NY)
    Love in the time of social upheaval
    The early 20th century was a fascinating time full of unique challenges and social change. Susan Meissner has written a well-researched and easy to read novel about a family who moves to Philadelphia just before the outbreak of the Spanish Flu. Telling the story from multiple perspectives, Meissner is able to explore a number of interesting social questions and historical trends. This is both a virtue and a failing. It deepens the historical perspective, but at the cost of more fully realized characters. At times, particularly in the beginning when the main characters were children, I sometimes found it difficult to keep them straight. The ending ties everything up beautifully and things are resolved in a rather fairy tale-like way which is satisfying albeit unrealistic. Even so, for lovers of historical fiction, I would highly recommend this novel.
  • Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
    The Bright Family
    "There's always a way to make something better, even if it means sweeping up the broken pieces and starting all over."
    A warm story about a family that leaves the comfort of their country existance to move to Philadelphia when an opportunity for a better life presents itself.
    Their love for each other sustains them through tragedy. An influenza epidemic and a war in the early 1900's is paramount to this novel.
    We watch the sisters Maggie, Evelyn and Willa carve their own niches as they grow up in a large home which is also part of a mortuary run by their father.
    All the characters are well developed. The story begins a bit slowly but it becomes hard to put down. I was hoping for an epilogue to find out more after the story ends.
  • Arlene M. (White Oak, PA)
    As Bright As Heaven
    Susan Meissner has written a touching novel of the Bright family who move from a rural Pennsylvania town to the city of Philadelphia for a better life. Their uncle has given the father, Thomas, a job at his funeral home where the family will live upstairs.

    The chapters are headed by Pauline, the mother, and the daughters Willa, Evelyn and Maggie. Even though they go back and forth among these characters, the chapters are easy to follow. Within a year their lives are in turmoil with WW1 ending and the men coming back home and then the Spanish flu epidemic.

    This is a story of love lost and love regained, of secrets made and secrets undone, and most of all of compassion and love in the worst of circumstances.
  • Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD)
    A Little Tarnished
    This Book is a page turner. The characters are well developed, chapter by chapter. They are all likable, honest people. Circumstances have led this family to a funeral home. I loved the acceptance and cooperation they showed in dealing with awkward and horrific circumstances. However, the plot line was depressing for me. There were too many coincidences developed to fit into this one poor family. The "hopeful" part was that they dealt with tragedy well. This well written book made me sad.


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