As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
First line: Morning light shimmers on the apricot horizon as I stand at the place where my baby boy rests.
Summary: When the Bright family, Thomas, Pauline and their three daughters, decide that they are going to move to Philadelphia they believe that it will be a new start away from the sorrow of the last few months. Thomas is apprenticing his uncle’s mortuary business. This seems a strange place to bring a family after the loss of their infant son and brother but for Pauline it helps her heal and understand death better. But suddenly the war and the Spanish Flu descend on the family. They have to deal with more than they ever expected.
Highlights: Susan Meissner can write beautiful stories rich with historical detail and human emotion. Her characters are always amazing and deep. It was a very fitting time to read about the flu after the strong strain that hit the U.S. this year. It is also the 100th anniversary of the epidemic. I liked the love stories and the history.
“She says the flu wanted to make barbarians of us, to have us think life is not precious and the dead are not worthy of our kindest care. Our humanity is what made what happened to us so terrible. Without it, nothing matters.”
Of course I had to search Newspapers.com (using the link on our library website) to see how Wichita reported the events of the time. It seemed that the who country shut down to help protect civilians from the dreaded flu that was wiping out millions of people.
Lowlights: I felt like the narratives of Pauline and Willa were not completely necessary. They did not provide too much to the story. The story could have been shortened by 50 pages or so. I ended up skimming the last 40 pages to see how the characters and story wrapped up.
FYI: I loved her book, The Secrets of a Charmed Life, which is set during the Blitz in London during World War II.