Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner


Release date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Historical Fiction


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 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 more 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.


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 birds-eye point of view this provided. You got to see how the war and the Spanish flu had an impact on adults and children and also to witness firsthand the devastation it caused just in one family, can you imagine how many countless families had similar true stories like this?! Amazing. I loved each and every member of this resilient and inspiring family, but Maggie will always have a special place in my heart.

Meissner’s attention to detail is impeccable, you can see that she did her research in order to keep as historically accurate as possible with a few minor details changed that made sense to the plot. If you’re a HF fan this is a must read, it’s fascinating and the writing is just beautiful.

As Bright as Heaven in three words: Heart-wrenching, Emotional and Unforgettable.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher and the Great Thoughts Ninja review team for my copy.

14 thoughts on “Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

  1. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom says:

    How fascinating! I can honestly say I’ve never read a book about the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, nor do I know much about it at all. Can you imagine living during a flu epidemic back then? Sounds like it is straight out of a post apocalyptic book! I will definitely be adding this to the TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

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