Number of Pages: 400
My Copy Came From:NetGalley
Read Via: Kindle
My Like Level: 4 out 5
“Event succeeds event; accidents, people, happenings, one after another come towards us. Each must be met and dealt with…For this process of adjustment is life, and the mastery of it is the art of living…
-Karl De Schweinitz, BR
The Art of Helping People out of Trouble, 1924
Book Summary from Amazon:
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.
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 months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.
This was one of the book selections for Book Of The Month Club a few months back. I finally got around to reading it and I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed it! The characters were all likeable and made fairly realistic life decisions. Susan Meissner did extensive research on the subject of the Spanish Flu and it really shows in her writing. The details are rich and descriptive which makes reading a story about something tragic like war time with the additional epidemic all the more real. Something I enjoy while at the same time dread, is a book in which I know characters will die. It makes the stakes higher in terms of my emotional connection to a story. If none of the characters die in a story about death, it would feel false and cheapen the story. The fact that this story takes place during a time when my parents weren’t even born is exciting to me too. Heck, my Grandparents weren’t even born!
Susan wrote a note to her readers at the end of the story that I loved. Here it is for you to enjoy:
“Death comes for us all in one way or another. It is a certainty. Our lives will one day end, and most of us will never know when. Interestingly enough, it is our mortality that gives our existence its value and beauty. If our days were not numbered, we probably wouldn’t care how we spent them. How does this knowledge that we are mortal affect our choices? The risks we take? The risks we don’t? These were the questions I wanted to explore as I wrote this book and that I wanted you to ponder as you read it. We are, all of us, living out the stories of our lives. Each of our stories will end, in time, but meanwhile, we fill the pages of our existence with all the love can, for as long as we can. This is how we make a life.”
This note really touched my heart. My family is currently on the final step of a very long process. We have chosen to move out of the state where we have grown up, and will be moving away from all of our family and friends. This is a risk that we are taking, and I hope it is a bright spot in our life’s story.
Thank you to NetGalley for the Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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