Cover Image: Beyond That, the Sea

Beyond That, the Sea

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Member Reviews

This was my first book by this author and I loved it!! Loved the back and forth timeline! Amazing storyline with wonderful characters! Highly highly recommend
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I went in with really no idea what this book was about, except that it was historical fiction. I'm not typically a big historical fiction fan, but this was done in a way that was mostly character driven. I really liked it more than I thought I would! Such a sweet story. I loved the relationship between Bea, William and Gerald. A story about love, relationships and hardships.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Celadon Books for gifting me a digital copy of this beautiful book by Laura Spence-Ash - 5 stars!

It's 1940, and bombs are beginning to fall around London.  Millie and Reg Thompson make the horrible decision to send their 11-year-old daughter, Beatrix, to America to live with another family until the war is over and it's safe for her to return.  Bea is scared but finds that the Gregory family - parents Ethan and Nancy, sons William and Gerald - fold her seamlessly into their home and lives.  She becomes close to both boys and spends summers at their Maine island, living a life she never even dreamed of.  So when the war is over and she's called back to London, she doesn't seem to fit in there any longer.

This is just a gorgeously-written book - a character study of loss and love, moving forward, forgiveness and acceptance.  We follow along as time moves on for all the characters, and we see how they are pulled towards each other throughout the years.  While this is a historical fiction book and takes place during wartime, its focus is on families - the pain of turning a child over to another generous family and the bonds that result.  I loved spending time with this book and hated to see it end.  A must read!
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This quiet but lovely novel has a historical setting, but really is more about the characters’ lives than the history happening around them. It begins during WWII, when an 11 year old girl named Beatrix is Seth by her parents to escape London during the Blitz by going to live with a family in the US. The book is told not just from Beatriz’s perspective, but also her two parents back in London, and all four members of the family she goes to live with, the parents and two brothers close to her age William and Gerard. A little less than half the book is set during WWII, but again is more a coming of age story than a war story, while the rest of the book covers the next few decades.

It’s a slow quiet book, but the writing is absolutely wonderful - think Ann Patchett or Ann Packer - and it’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel! While there are a lot of perspectives, I never got confused between them, and the very short chapters keep the narrative going. I will say I preferred the first part of the book about the war years, but the rest of the book was well done too and the ending was just perfection that left me crying. I will definitely keep an eye out for whatever Laura Spence-Ash writes next!
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Thank you @celadonbooks and @netgalley for this advance copy.  This story begins when 11 year old Beatrix is sent from London to America during World War II. We then follow the lives of Beatrix, her parents, and the family she lives with in America over the next several decades. I absolutely loved the first half of this novel. It is primarily character driven, but the short chapters and changing POVs gave it a propulsive feel. The second half of the story really seemed to change course and was not as strong for me, but I did enjoy the epilogue.
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Bea is sent to live with an American family during World War II to escape the bombing of London. There she lives with the Gregorys and becomes a part of the family as she settles into her new life and finds peace in a time of turmoil. When the war is over and she returns to London somewhat reluctantly, she finds it difficult to reconnect with her mom and her old life and feels somewhat adrift. As the years pass, the lives of the two families diverge and yet are still strongly connected from the time Bea spent in America, particularly between Bea and the two Gregory children. Overall, a well-written historical fiction novel that focuses on the sacrifices made during the war and the strength of finding family.
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I have to say I was quite an emotional mess when I finished this book. It was a roller coaster ride and I definitely didn’t want to get off. I read it as part of a buddy read group and while my friends sped through it because they couldn’t get enough I actually put it away because I didn’t want it to end. That’s a testament to the beauty, aching tenderness, sadness, and pure heart that went into Laura Spence-Ash’s DEBUT novel, Beyond That, the Sea. 

I went into this reading blindly, only knowing it was about WWII and a young girl coming to America. I will try not to give away too much because truly, the story deserves to be read as such. 

In 1940, German bombs have been to fall in London. Reggie and Millie make the difficult decision to send 11 year-old Beatrix to America for safety, along with other British children. She comes to live with Ethan and Nancy Gregory, “Mr & Mrs G.”, and their two sons, Gerald and William in Boston. 

As the war ends she must return home, but what is home anymore? 
“The girl in the tale is different from the girl at home, and this will all become something that once happened to her in a dream.”

The book ranges from 1940 to 1965 (with the epilogue in 1977). The chapters alternate between the POV of the different characters. In my opinion, although it is technically a book that takes place during a historical event I wouldn’t necessarily classify it a historical fiction novel. I mean, technically it is one because it’s about the past (in the same way that Carrie Soto is one) but I’m more apt to classify it as a coming-of-age/Bildungsroman as we see Beatrix go through a huge change from age 11 to 36. (But I’m not a publisher so 😂)

I read this as an immersive read with the digital version and the audiobook. Ell Potter was a delicious narrator. I want her to read absolutely everything to me. She embodies Bea. 

I can’t wait to read Laura Spence-Ash for years to come. The debuts this year have been phenomenal! 

Thanks to Netgalley, Celadon for the eARC, and Macmillan Audio for the ALC!
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Beyond That, the Sea: A Novel by Laura Spence-Ash

In her debut work of fiction, Laura Spence-Ash charts the lives and longings of her characters during the World War II years, and in subsequent decades, as relationships and connections and identities shift. As a young girl, Beatrix is shipped by her parents to the Gregory family in Massachusetts remove her from the dangers of the London Blitz. The reluctant evacuee’s assimilation into the upper-class American household, a sharp contrast to her own, is complicated but eventually solid and complete. Each of the section is identified by its viewpoint character—Beatrix; her parents; each of the adult Gregorys; their vastly different sons, Gerald and William, and others entering the story later. The Maine cottage where Beatrix and her hosts spend every summer serves as an anchor and a talisman, until financial straits and advancing age take a toll on family members. Living up to expectations, one’s own and those cherished by others, and the attendant difficulties, are a consistent theme.

At the conclusion of the war, Beatrix is reclaimed by her surviving parent, returning to a London altered by time and destruction. Unable to feel wholly at home, she must forge her own professional path while struggling to find a compatible partner in romance.

The only (relatively minor, but recurrent) flaw is an accurate degree of Englishness in the English characters, whose Americanisms in speech and narrative can be jarring. Overall, the writing is beautiful and insightful, and tragedy and heartbreak are exquisitely rendered throughout. (Celadon Books, 368 pp., hardcover/ebook/audio, March, 2023)
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I really liked this story of about Bea, a London girl who moves in with a Boston family to escape Nazi bombing during World War II. As the war ends and Bea returns to her old life, she begins to realize that she doesn’t really know where or with what family she belongs. 
Beyond That, the Sea is a bittersweet story about the changes that happen over the passage time, and makes you realize that there’s really no such thing as going home again.
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"𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒘𝒆 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒉𝒐𝒎𝒆 - 𝒉𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒕 𝒎𝒂𝒚 𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒗𝒆, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒔."
- 𝑶𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑾𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒎𝒆𝒔, 𝑺𝒓.

beyond that, the sea is a debut historical fiction novel written by Laura Spence-Ash that centers around a girl named Bea during WWII that is forced to leave her parent's home in London to live with the Gregory family across the ocean in America.  

Thank you #partner publisher Celadon Books and Laura Spence-Ash for the #gifted copy. I was given a free ARC copy in exchange for my honest opinion.  

• The beautiful prose of this story.  It was so smooth and flowed effortlessly.
• The character development was pristine and I was emotionally invested in each character.
• Maine!  Mainers are proud people and we love our state.  It is magical and there is no other place like it.  Thank you for reflecting that love into your novel.  
• This coming-of-age story felt like a big hug.  Especially how welcoming the Gregorys were towards Bea.
• I did enjoy the multiple POVs.  Normally, I would shy away from that many POVs but it worked for me.  Every character in this book is notable with no risk of confusion to the reader.
• The year markers on the bottom of each page were so helpful in keeping track.  This novel spans over thirty-seven years.
• Reading about the character's relationships in the past and how they continued onward was beautiful. 
• The short chapters were exclusively one character's POV and that added the cherry on top.  There was no way I was going to be confused over who or when.

This is an amazing and well-executed story!  I absolutely recommend reading this book.  Matter of fact, I'm going to purchase a copy for my Mom who will be making her way back to Maine for the summer very soon.  Just like the Gregorys.  

𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐲
🥧 Historical Fiction 
🥧 Coming of age stories 
🥧 Where the Crawdads Sing 
🥧 Home baked goods 
🥧 Maine 
🥧 Communication by postal letters 
🥧 Love and heartbreak

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 4.5/5 (8.86/10 CAWPILE)
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Beyond That, The Sea is a novel about eleven year old Beatrix, who is sent from London to live with a family in America to escape WWII.  I wanted to love this one, but it missed the mark in some areas for me.  The chapters were very short, rushing from one character to the next, which I found hard to keep track of.  Most of the chapters were very short, some only a few pages, which didn’t give much time to fully know the characters.  The storyline overall seemed very long and drawn out, without any climax or anticipation.  I’m personally a hopeless romantic and I just felt like Beatrix’s love life flatlined and in the end she settled. Overall, I’d give it a 3/5. 

Many thanks to Laura Spence-Ash, the publisher, and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Beyond That, the Sea is an epic debut novel by @laura_spence_ash that spans two coasts and many years. Beatrix is sent to live with an American family during WWII to stay safe from the bombings in London. She has an American host family with two boys, one older and one younger. Their mother is thrilled to finally have a girl in the family. 

It takes some time for her to get to know the family, but soon it’s like she was always meant to be with the Gregorys. She makes her own friends and enjoys the family’s vacation home in Coastal Maine. She writes letters weekly to her family and she misses them dearly. But she loves the US and as she gets older she begins to have a crush on William the older brother, but she’s very close with Gerald, the younger brother too.

The story follows the two families over decades including tragedies and romance. I really enjoyed the novel- it has ver short chapters and I couldn’t wait to read more. It’s a lighter WWII novel, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tug at your heartstrings. I’m really looking forward to more from the author. 

My husband’s family is from Boston and often talks about the Jordan Marsh stores and their famous blueberry muffins! I have the recipe myself and they are every bit as delicious as advertised. 

Thank you @bookishfirst and @celadonbooks for my gifted copy. Beyond That, the Sea is out on March 21! 

5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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This is a debut novel from Spence-Ash, who is an American author. It is an historical fiction set during the WWII years and the years afterwards. When the bombs start falling on London, Millie and  her husband make the almost impossible decision to send their 11-year-old daughter to live with a host family in the USA.  Bea arrives in Boston and is greeted by Mr. & Mrs. Gregory and their two sons, William (who is a little older than Bea), and Gerald (who is slightly younger). The Gregory's have more money and Bea learns to love both the family and the lifestyle, especially the summers at the cottage in Maine. Of course the war eventually ends and Bea returns home and has to adjust all over again. The story is told from multiple points of view, the chapters are short and time passes quickly, but the story is a beautiful one that explores yet another aspect of WWII and is a wonderful recommendation for historical fiction readers. 4.5 stars..
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“What’s past is prologue,” is the hopeful message repeated through this family story that comes full circle. As a child in England,  Bea is sent by her parents to to live with a family in Maine as a refuge during WWII. Bea adapts to America and becomes a part of this vibrant fun-loving family. She even develops strong feelings for one of the brothers, William. Her bond with the family and their special home in Maine grows as her own father passes away back in England. Eventually, though, the war winds down and Bea returns to England to be with her mom. Alone with each other, Bea and her mother live a dreary existence. Bea works her way up through a decade of work and time brings her back to Maine and this time she and the other brother, Gerald, find deep love together. They buy back the family home from their childhood and raise their daughter there, bringing family members together including Bea’s mom. 
Bea’s past with the family was just prologue for the real story, the beginning of her life with Gerald. Up to that point, there was healing and growth and loss… everything necessary for Bea and Gerald to find each other anew and begin again. This is a beautiful, hopeful story. I’d recommend it.
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This was so good. Tears were involved.

Beyond That, the Sea is the story of Beatrix, an eleven-year-old girl who is evacuated from London during WWII and relocated to the United States to live with the Gregory family. She quickly warms to their affluent and exuberant lifestyle and becomes close to both of their sons, even though she misses her parents. When the war ends, Beatrix has to return to London and figure out how to adapt back to her old life. 

The story is told through multiple (eight!) points of view, over several decades, but it’s never hard to tell who is talking. I love that Spence-Ash provided all of these perspectives because it gave the characters great depth and complexity and makes you empathetic to what they’re all experiencing. This insight made the book even more moving than if you only heard from Beatrix’s perpective, even if she is the heart of the story. I was sobbing by the end. 

This is weirdly the second “WWII relocation” story I’ve read this month - the first was the amazing middle grade historical fiction book The War That Saved My Life (which is quite a bit more cut-and-dry about who you want the kids to stay with, but still breaks your heart). 

I absolutely loved this book and am picking it for my neighborhood bookclub to read and discuss in June.
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I first heard about "Beyond That, the Sea" by Laura Spence-Ash on BookishFirst.  So when I saw it on NetGalley I knew right away that I wanted to request it!  And I'm so happy I did.  I really enjoyed this book.  Bea is just 11 years old when she is sent to live with strangers in America to escape the war in England.  She bonds with this family.  This story covers the years that follow, with chapters from a different character in the story.  They are all very well developed and this is a touching story.  I will definitely look from more from the author.
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What do you do when you belong in two places, so are never truly whole in either?

Beyond That, the Sea begins in 1940, when young Beatrix Thompson is sent by ship, from the UK across the Atlantic Ocean, to live with an American family during the war. Her parents’ decision to evacuate her will cause repercussions that will echo and reverberate in both families for the rest of their lives. 

We journey with Bea from her preteen years to her late forties, experiencing all of the love and losses the years bring her.

I loved this story and didn’t want it to end. I will read it over and over again. 

Read this if you liked: Foster by Claire Keegan or The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, and be prepared with tissues and blueberry muffins. I paired my readings with cups of hot blueberry tea. 

My gratitude to the author, the publisher @celadonbooks, and @netgalley for the review copy. 

Congratulations, Laura, what a tremendous debut! 🥰 😭
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I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. It's 1940, World War II, England stands against Germany. Many families were forced to deal with the issue of what to do with the children in order to keep them safe. Many were sent to the English countryside, and some were sent to the United States; this involved two weeks aboard a ship. Millie and Reg, Beatrix's parents, chose this option for their daughter, age 11. Arriving in Boston, knowing no one and with no idea how long she would remain there, carrying only one small suitcase, she is met by her United States family. She was one of the lucky ones. The Gregory family accepted her fully, and she grew to accept them and fit into their family perhaps better than shefit with her own parents back in England. 

William Gregory is 13, and Gerald is nine so Bea fits right in the middle. Mrs. G. always wanted a daughter and now she has one. The family appears to have an affluent life style, Harvard educated father is a teacher at a private school. All three children attend the private schools just across the park from their home. Mrs. G. stays home and cares for them all. 

Following the war, Bea returns to a London certainly not the same as when she left. Bea realizes she doesn't fit in her old life anymore, but what choice does she have? Our hearts ache for William, who struggles to fit into a life he doesn't want, and Gerald, who often feels lost but finds his way.

The story is character-driven; we learn how the people's lives intersect and watch the children grow to adulthood. It's a tearjerker, and the characters in this lovely story will stay with you for quite a long time. A debut novel, well done.
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Beatrix is an 11-year-old English girl who is evacuated from war-torn London. Her parents make the impossible decision to send her to America to live with another family during the war. She is sent to live with the Gregory’s in Boston. This is a character-driven story about how this decision changed these two families forever. 

This book was written in a unique format for a historical fiction! It had multiple POVs with very short chapters, 3 to 4 pages at most. Personally, I enjoyed the way it was written!The story itself was a WWII story, but it was more WWII adjacent. There were no firsthand accounts of the horrors of the war, which was also a refreshing deviation from most WWII historical fiction. I loved watching the 3 children grow-up and navigate childhood and then adulthood together and apart.

4.5 rounded up!

Thank you to NetGalley and Celadon publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC!
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A historical fiction novel based on the premise of when families sent their young children to America from European countries during the time of World War II. I was interested in the book as I thought it was a unique take on the traditional WWII novels.  While I enjoyed reading, the book fell a bit flat for me.  I would say more of a coming of age story than a historical fiction book.  Told through quite a few multiple characters, it was hard for me to connect to any of the characters.  We never stayed with one long enough.  There is also a lot of time jumps where we fast forward over years of the storyline, without much reference to what may have happened during that time.  It would have been nice to include some letters during these jumping points to let the reader stay connected. It was an easy read and kept my interest enough to keep reading, I just wasn't blown away. Reading other reviews though I may be an outlier with this one. I do recommend this books to those that enjoy sweeping, character-driven, coming of age tales. 

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read and review honestly an advanced digital copy.
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