As Bright as Heaven

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

What an interesting read! There are so many angles to this story, areas that are not frequently explored in fiction, that this story felt fresh and new throughout. There aren’t many novels that deal with the Spanish Flu, even when they are telling the stories of WWI, but Susan Meissner handled the effects of the Flu on Philadelphia masterfully and wove it into several critical story plot twists that have lasting implications for the Bright family. The full effects of the Flu are explored from the symptoms, how it seemed to come about, how many people were dying, and how it really contributed to the rise of the funeral home business. It’s always interesting to me to see how major events...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?
This writing in this story was just top notch. You can tell the author put in a tremendous amount of research but it never comes across as too much. It actually helped the story come alive. I don't usually enjoy multiple perspectives but that structure worked really well for this story. I didn't know anything about The Spanish Flu when I started this book but the author drew me in and made me care about it's impact on the Bright family. There's such a sense of tragedy to this story which really came through and I found it to be compelling and engaging throughout
Was this review helpful?

This was another fantastic book from Susan Meissner. I have enjoyed all of her books but this one is my favorite - at least until her next book comes out.

This novel starts about 1917 when the Bright family decides to move to Philadelphia to better their lives. The dad has been given a chance to learn the mortuary business and eventually take over his uncle's funeral home. The family has been given beautiful room above the mortuary to live in. The novel is told in four alternating female voices - the Mom - Pauline and the three sisters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa. As they begin to try to make friends in school, their lives are getting ready to change. The Spanish Flu epidemic hits...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?

I laughed and I cried through this novel, the Bright family though, had to endure it all while I sat back and just watched, my emotions getting the best of me. The year was 1918 and this family was embarking on change. Having moved from Quakertown, they were now moving to the city, the city of Philadelphia where father would be one day taking over a family business. No more rolling tobacco and cigars, the family was going into the mortuary business.

Mother wanted to be a part of this venture and originally, Uncle Fred confined her to the attached house. Mother and the children had no business being in the funeral home unless it was to help set up for services. Mother questioned why...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?
Touching historical fiction - makes me want to learn more about the Spanish flu.
Was this review helpful?
I was interested in reading this book because it was set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918-19. I had no idea that Philadelphia was the port of entry and found the historical aspects very interesting. And I thought having the primary characters be a family of undertakers was an excellent way to get a very clear understanding of the enormity of the epidemic. Unfortunately, I found the manner in which the story resolved to be too clean and simple. As a result, I would have a hard time recommending this book.
Was this review helpful?
This book was very good. I read it in 2 days. Love the Author. Only gets better. Run...to buy this book. Highly recommend!!!
Was this review helpful?
A well written book that allows the reader to walk along side of the characters as they deal with their grief and issues of that time.  It is a great reminder we are not the first generation to face war and death in its many forms.  What are you going to do with it and how does it shape you.
Was this review helpful?

After the Spanish Flu of 1918 reaches the U.S., the Bright family (Thomas, Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa) is forever changed.

After raising their family in the small town of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, Thomas and Pauline Bright decide to accept Uncle Fred's invitation to move to Philadelphia to help with—and eventually inherit—his funeral home business. Living in a funeral parlor, near so many dead bodies and mourners, forever changed how this sweet and unassuming family viewed life and loss. I especially enjoyed Maggie's viewpoint as a 12-13 year old very curious about her new surroundings.

I found the funeral home setting especially fascinating since my own grandmother...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?
Very good story. I loved the details regarding the flu and how it affected so many lives and families.
Was this review helpful?

Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner is a powerfully evocative novel that just swept me away. As I read this book, I realized I couldn't put it down. The characters jumped off the page and this achingly beautiful story took hold of my heart and wouldn't let go. As I drew to the close of this story, I longed for more. I wasn't ready to say good-bye but I found the end of this book came all too soon. I so enjoyed this book, I know I will revisit it time and again. I most definitely recommend Bright as Heaven!

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms. Meissner, Berkely Publishing as well as...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner is destined to be the book to talk about. Its title will be tossed around in staff lounges and book clubs and mom (and dad) groups everywhere (À la All the Light We Cannot See). The story will be discussed and ruminated on, and it will stay with its readers for a very, very long time.

There are great novels and great pieces of literary work and As Bright As Heaven is both. I found myself many times rereading a section, not because I didn’t understand it, but because I wanted to taste the way Ms. Meissner had written a particular idea one more time. In her author’s note at the back of the book Ms. Meissner states that she had very specific questions...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?
Ms.Meissner  once again astounds me with the amount of research that she puts into a story. I had not remembered learning anything about the Spanish flu, so that was an interesting aspect, especially since this year many have died from the flu.
This story is told by 4 pov's - the 3 daughters of various ages and the mother. I think she did a really good job of giving everyone their own voice, especially Willa at 6 years old. This is for most of the book, a rather heartbreaking story and I was fully engaged. For me though, it faltered towards the end. Still a very good read as usual.

**Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
Was this review helpful?
Historical fiction with a great setting and captivating characters. I'll be suggesting this not only to patrons who enjoy historical fiction, but also to patrons who like stories with strong family stories.
Was this review helpful?

Set in 1918 Philadelphia, this was the story of an average family household of husband, wife, and three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa. The mother Pauline Bright had just lost her infant son and the and her family were dealing with their grief. Change was in the wind men leaving to fight in the Great War and so life would go on. However, when an opportunity came along for them to take their family out of the tobacco fields for a new life in Philadelphia, they decided to take the chance.

Not only was the Great War going on with daily lists of soldiers wounded or dead but an even worse enemy had entered the United States and that was called the Spanish flu. The Spanish flu...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

As Bright as Heaven tells a rich tale of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. The lovely prose does little to hide the horrors of the time, and I felt like I was right there alongside the Bright family as they faced life and death.

Meissner focuses on a time when the Spanish flu became the deadliest pandemic in history. I think many people are unaware of just how devastating this virus was; my own great-grandmother succumbed to the illness so it has always been in the back of my mind. This book caught my attention because of this, but it also touches on the effects of World War I and prohibition. It is a fascinating account of loss...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?

“The heart always does what it needs to do.”

The Bright family never could have predicted how their lives would transpire after moving from the country to Philadelphia. When Tom and Pauline decide to move their three daughters to start anew and create a life in the city, they expect to move forward from the loss they have encountered in losing their youngest son, Henry. As war wages on overseas, and the Spanish flu epidemic hits the cities, escaping death and heartache becomes impossible. Young girls, Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa are pushed into a world of love and loss that no one could have seen coming.

“Sooner or later she will learn time changes everything, takes everything; sometimes...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?
If you enjoy historical fiction and want something a little different, then I’d recommend this book. It does focus more on family and familial relationships that romance, so if you tend to prefer the romantic historical fiction stories, this will not be it. Surprisingly, even though it can be a dark/heavy book at times, that isn’t the overall feeling that I was left with, so if you’re intimidated at all by the storyline, I would say it’s lighter that you will expect it to be. The writing is solid and enjoyable and I look forward to reading more from Meissner.
Was this review helpful?

Four stars: A wonderful historical novel with four distinct voices set during the Spanish flu epidemic.

The Bright family is still reeling after the loss of their infant son, Henry. It is 1918, World War I is still raging throughout Europe, requiring more and more boys and men to head off and fight. During these hard times, the family comes to a difficult decision. They will leave the family tobacco farm and head to Philadelphia where Mr. Bright will learn the trade of an undertaker. Pauline is ready to go after losing her infant. The three young girls, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa have differing opinions, but they have no choice but to pack up and go. Once the family is settled in...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?

"It's as if the body is a candle and the soul is its flame. When the flame is snuffed out, all that is left to prove that there had been a flame is the candle, and even that we only have for a little while. Even the candle is not ours to keep. And yet how we care for that candle for that stretch of time that it is still ours! How we want to remember the shape and fragrance of the little flame it held."
-
"This flu is like a black shroud that has been flung across everything that breathes under the canopy of heaven, and if you could stand back far enough you wouldn't see all the people it touches, only the immense length and breadth of its expanse."
-
I...

See Full Review
Was this review helpful?