As Bright as Heaven – Susan Meissner

heavenSet during WWI and the outbreak of the Spanish flu epidemic, As Bright as Heaven follows the Bright family and their move to Philadelphia to begin a new life helping their uncle run his funeral business. There are 3 daughters: Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa, who each have their own plans for the future. The family is already under the burden of mourning, and they hope that starting again in a new town may help overcome their grief. The book is organized with multiple points of view, so the reader can understand the family’s situation from different characters’ perspectives.

The Spanish flu affected everyone during this time, especially a funeral home overwhelmed with the number of victims requiring burial. The flu took the old and young alike, the healthy and the infirm, and there was no explanation for those who recovered and those who did not. On top of the desperation and fear of the flu, men were leaving to fight in the war, leaving behind many women to endure this calamity on their own. This book was well-researched and skillfully organized.

This story is wholesome; there is little violence, no bad language, and no sex. It’s a book you can lend to your grandmother or your middle-schooler without concern. Despite the lack of the usual sordid inclusions, it’s still a riveting story and the drama doesn’t disappoint.

As Bright as Heaven had steady pacing, and the plot moved forward with new developments to keep my interest. The writing was superb, never trite or cloying. I read this book in two days, and I always looked forward to reading more. There were no slow sections, no middle-of-the-book slump. I enjoyed the experience of this book,and I’m definitely going to investigate some of this author’s previous work.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or an easy-to-read, enjoyable story.
Many thanks to BookishFirst and Penguin Random House for this advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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