As Bright as Heaven

As Bright as Heaven

Susan Meissner / Feb 19, 2020

As Bright as Heaven 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 which tells the story of a family re

  • Title: As Bright as Heaven
  • Author: Susan Meissner
  • ISBN: 9780399585968
  • Page: 191
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 fresFrom 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 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.

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      Published :2018-010-20T12:46:00+00:00

    About "Susan Meissner"

      • Susan Meissner

        Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three She spent her childhood in just two houses.Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980 When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.


    1. 1918, a family after a tragic loss, moves from Quakertown to Philadelphia when the childless uncle invites the father of this family to work with him as an undertaker and become heir to his business and home. Philadelphia is a place where Thomas Bright thought he could give a better life to his wife and three daughters. They move into the funeral home so how could this book not be about death, given the business ? But death appears in ways that could not be anticipated with the outbreak of the S [...]

    2. Susan Meissner’s writing is like a warm hug or a slow dance or a good wine. It just flows seamlessly and gets you into your soul. Personally, I have a tendency to romanticize the past - historical fiction holds such a dear place in my heart, I love that I can be entertained by fiction while being educated about a period of time. But definitely, not all of it is romantic. And in As Bright As Heaven, Susan Meissner has given a voice to so many who experienced a horrible plague, one that has seem [...]

    3. 1918, Philadelphia, a city with many opportunities, a city that the Bright family, Pauline, Thomas and their three daughters move to for just that purpose. Thomas's elderly, childless uncle wants them to live in his large house, and for Thomas to train and takeover his mortuary business. Leaving Quakertown behind, this is what the family looks forward to, a new and better life, especially after the tragedy of a terrific loss.I fell in love with this family, and we hear individually from each of [...]

    4. I just loved this family, the Bright’s. This book begins in 1918 during the Great War and the Spanish flu epidemic, when this family of five, the parents and three daughter’s moves from Quakertown to Philadelphia. The father’s uncle gives him the job of undertaker to his funeral home and heir to his estate.The chapters are told in alternating chapters by the woman and girls of the family.From life in the funeral home, the neighbors, the Great War, the flu, prohibition so much touched on in [...]

    5. Perfection! I absolutely adored this novel. I have never read anything about the Spanish Flu and was astounded at the number of people & families it affected. Meissners writing is flawless. She draws you in with her remarkable characters and storytelling. This is a novel not to be missed! 5+ stars.

    6. I had previously read “A Bridge Across The Ocean” by Ms. Meissner and I was anxious to read this new novel. Wow, it is one of the best books that I have read this year!!! The prose is beautiful and flowing and amongst all of the heartache and physical and emotional difficulties the human spirit shines brightly!The setting is Philadelphia around 1917 and on. The Bright family, husband Thomas, wife Pauline and their three daughters have just moved to Philadelphia from a poor tobacco town to jo [...]

    7. From a small town in Pennsylvania as a family rolling tobacco leaves for a living to Philadelphia as a family living and working in a funeral home.The Brights made a big change from their quiet life in Quakertown to the noisy, big city of Philadelphia. Both the city and the job Thomas Bright had were quite different from what they were used to.The girls had to leave their friends and make new ones, but most folks weren't interested in being friends with a funeral director's daughter. Pauline Bri [...]

    8. 5 GLORIOUS stars (and 5 random thoughts):1. My first ARC! Thank you to the publisher for providing my with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. 2. Apparently, 100 years ago, fifty-million people worldwide perished from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the deadliest disease in history and I had NO idea. As the backdrop for this novel, I was enthralled. 3. The story follows the alternating perspectives of a wife and her 3 resilient daughters as they make a new life in Philadelphia. The [...]

    9. 5 oh my gosh I loved this story starsSometimes a story just comes together and as you unwrap its layers, you find yourself more and more in love with what was written. This was the case with this reader. Susan Meissner told this story with love and a devotion to show us what the ravages of a world war and a deadly disease, that of the Spanish influenza did to families. The loss of life from both of these tragedies was staggering and no one came away unblemished in some part. Following the Bright [...]

    10. Sue Meissner’s books just get better and better with each new one; every time I pick up her latest book I hope that it will be as good as her last ones, and instead I end up liking the newest one the most. Very few authors can sustain that level of excellence; it is quite an impressive feat. As Bright as Heaven is simply fantastic: Meissner’s tale is fascinating, heartbreaking and an all-around beautifully written book. Moreover, her characters are well-developed, authentic and believable. U [...]

    11. One of the loveliest benefits of author life is being given the opportunity to peruse upcoming books before they make their way to the rest of the world. When an early copy of Bright as Heaven came my way (still in a plain white wrapper, no gorgeous cover yet), I couldn't wait to crack open the pages. Rich in historical detail, Bright as Heaven is a vivid journey into an almost unimaginable time. Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa face loss, transition, change, and uncertainty with grace and resi [...]

    12. I was very lucky to read an ARC of Susan Meissner's forthcoming novel and it totally swept me away. Beautifully written and vividly imagined, AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN is a mesmerizing portrayal of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, a devastating event in our global history that I haven't read about in such depth before. The author deals with the subject with grace and sensitivity, while drawing the reader into the wonderfully constructed world of her female protagonists - a mother and her three daught [...]

    13. I was lucky enough to have an early read of this wonderful book set in Philadelphia around the outbreak of WWI. It is a unique premise and gloriously written!

    14. The Spanish Flu is not something I know very much about and admittedly it’s not something that I’ve ever had a great interest in but Meissner writes such gorgeous prose that I was utterly fascinated by it while reading this. I honestly think she could write about anything and I would be at least mildly engaged but I was completely captivated by the Bright family and their tragic tale.This is told via the perspectives of all of the women in the Bright family, even the youngest and I loved the [...]

    15. Love in the Time of InfluenzaBy Judge Stacey ArmandI love when a book makes me experience such powerful and raw emotions that, days after turning the last page, I find myself still completely immersed in that world. Such is the case with As Bright as Heaven, a stunning and intimate family saga that follows the lives of the Bright family women against the backdrop of World War I-era Philadelphia during the little-known Spanish flu pandemic that took thousands of American lives.The novel opens wit [...]

    16. They journeyed from the tobacco fields of home to the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia in 1918. The Bright family saw a future, although unknown, with the possibilities of being as bright as their name. Little did they know, with young men going off to join the Great War, and the nightmares of the Spanish flu epidemic, their lives would become a saga of survival, fortitude, heartbreak, loss and finally hope.Three sisters would endure witnessing their father go off to war, the loss of their moth [...]

    17. I hope I can do this novel justice as I review it because this was such a touching, heartfelt, amazing book that this is one not to miss. This story begins with the Bright Family, a family living in Quakertown, Pennsylvania in 1918, they are father Thomas, wife, Pauline and their 3 daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and the youngest, Willa. Here the Bright family together make a meager living drying and rolling tobacco leaves to make as cigars but they are a close knit family who together dream of a bett [...]

    18. As Bright As Heaven is a beautifully written story about a familys loves, its heartaches, its passions. It starts with an intriguing premise, as the family lives above a mortuary, and they all become involved in the family business. But there is no morbidity, the story is not maudline focus of this story is on the living, a family who tends to the bereaved families as well as the deceased. The story takes us through WWI and the Spanish flu epidemic, and how the lives of the Bright family are imp [...]

    19. Wow, did this book pack a punch. Stunningly written and the story itself was full of the darkest and lightest moments in life. It is a serious tearjerker but it leaves you full of hope. It's told from four POVs, a mother and her three daughters, over the course of several years. Normally alternating POVs are just not my thing, but the writing in this one was done so well I was seamlessly able to transition from character to character without noticing any interruption. If you love a good historic [...]

    20. Beautifully poignant and beautifully written, As Bright As Heaven deals with one families trials and heartache during during a harsh time in American history. One ripe with a war ending and a deadly disease on the cusp of infecting millions and leaving almost everyone affected by both.Starting in 1918 and spanning the length of 8 years we get to meet the Brights who from the very first chapter are dealing with a loss no family should have to go through. This was a beautiful story told through th [...]

    21. As Bright as Heaven is a novel about how a family is completely transformed by the 1918 flu epidemic. The book is narrated by the four women in the Bright family: Pauline, mom, who has finally made peace with the sudden passing of her son; Evie, 15; 12 year old Maggie and 6 year old Willa. Meissner brings to life the fear of the time — fear of the epidemic, fear of foreigners, fear of progress. As Philadelphia succumbs to the flu, the Bright family makes a split second decision with huge reper [...]

    22. An average farm family moves to Philadelphia during 1918 to help run an uncle's funeral business. This move is a huge cultural change for the parents as well as their three daughters, but little do they know how much change they and their newly adopted city will endure. The topic of the Spanish Flu during this timeframe, 1917-18, has been almost ignored with little written about such a devastating worldwide event that killed 50 million people. We don't know why this is, but the disease was indis [...]

    23. The year is 1918 and Pauline and Thomas Bright decide to move their family to Philadelphia in search of a better life. Shortly after they arrive, so does the Spanish Flu, and with it the deaths of thousands of people. The one bright light in all of this is an abandoned baby they find and take in to fill a void.I always tell my students that we take our life experiences with us when we dive into a book. This was difficult for me to read. I'm not saying it wasn't a good book - it was extraordinary [...]

    24. I read the entire, but the last PART which occurred in 1925 I read far more quickly than the rest. No synopsis in any detailed measure but the short or tall of subject matter with my reaction. It's a heartfelt tale of a family by the separation narrator sections for each female individual's "eyes". Constantly flipping. Three daughters and their Mother. (So 4 different narrator divisions for the basic form.) And most of the tale occurs in 1918-19 surrounding the Spanish Flu epidemic within Philad [...]

    25. Love this story of the bright family. In a time of the Spanish flu. How decisions were made that affected so many lives! How when you think you are helping someone you end up hurting others. I could not read this fast enough to see what happened. I was not disappointed!

    26. Thank you so much Berkley Publishing for sending me a copy of this book to read and also for inviting me to join the blog tour.This was a beautifully written story that gave me so many emotions. I was immediately drawn in to the Bright family from the first chapter. I loved the way Meissner wove together changing narrative so that you can really get a feel for everything going on from many different viewpoints. My heart broke for this family so many times. I knew very little about the Spanish Fl [...]

    27. In 1918 the Bright family leaves a tobacco farm in Quakertown, PA to move to center city Philadelphia. The father is to work for his uncle's funeral parlor, which he would then inherit. They have suffered the devastating--but at that time all too common loss--of a baby. Their grief travels with them into their new life.In the autumn of 1918 the Spanish Influenza hits Philadelphia, leaving over 12,000 dead in its wake. The mortuary fills and the uncle dies. When a daughter falls ill, the mother k [...]

    28. A solid 4 star read and I'm adding 1 more star for I just love the way Susan Meissner takes a moment in history and then make a wonderful story around it. This is the 3rd book that I have read , the first one was A Fall of Marigolds and the other was A Bridge Across the Ocean. Both were very good reads. The only bad thing I can say is at times, I feel the book drags just a little bit- but it doesn't last long enough for me to start skimming the pages. If you are a fan of historical fiction- pick [...]

    29. 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 - [...]

    30. 4.5/5 - If you read my reviews at all you know that I am always astounded by the research that goes into a historical fiction novel; it is no different with Ms. Meissner’s latest.She takes us into the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 through the eyes of an undertaker and his family. They move from Quakertown, PA to Philadelphia just months before the outbreak and are still reeling from their own personal loss when tragedy strikes the city.We are told of family events through the eyes of the daught [...]

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