This book was a very realistic view of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 in Philadelphia. It really hit home with me as my grandfather came from Croatia to Philadelphia in 1914. As he was an undertaker for his church in Croatia, I could imagine him helping with all the dead. The story is told by the perspective of the daughters. The characters were well-developed and you can feel great empathy as they told their side of the story. While reading, you get a good insight into the mortuary business at that time. It's was truly amazing to find out that the flu took more lives than WWI. I would recommend reading this book as it really was very interesting to learn how people coped with so many dying around them. I look forward to reading more books my Susan Meissner as I really liked her writing.
Set in the early 1900's, the Bright family moves from a tobacco farm to Philadelphia where Mr Bright joins his never-married uncle's business of running a funeral home.
The family with 3 girls lives through the World War and Spanish flu epidemic, losing beloved family, friends, and classmates. They even take in a baby boy orphaned by the flu.
The girls all have special talents and we see them grow up to take on jobs and go thru courtships. These girls are liberated for their time!
Truly historical fiction, but there is enough romance to lighten the sadness that permeates much of the story.
Book is narrated by the women in the family with chapters alternating between characters, though this doesn't make it hard to follow. Book is written in 2 parts which seems to make a jump I didn't quite understand. The theme that drives part one is abandoned in part 2-- I'm sure we'll discuss that when my bookclub meets!
I enjoyed the descriptive writing Meissner used throughout the novel.
What was it like to live through the Spanish flu pandemic on the heels of WWI? Frightening stuff. Experiencing it through the Bright family--their love, loss, and adjustment to life's random changes--was nothing short of riveting. A little romance, a little heartbreak, but always--always--a family a reader can love. I really wasn't good for anything much until I finished it. Absolutely recommended at 4.5 stars.
As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner explores the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic through one Philadelphia neighborhood, focusing on the Bright family who operate a funeral home.
While many readers are seeking an escape from current reality, it felt right for me to lean into it, and now was the perfect time for me to read this exceptional historical fiction novel. Yes, some chapters closely mirrored current events, but it was oddly comforting to see characters on the page experience what we're going through.
I especially appreciated that two-thirds of the novel focuses on life after the pandemic. It was a powerful reminder that life will continue after COVID-19. It may be quite different than pre-Coronavirus, but there will be a future.