I am drawn to Historical Fiction because I am in awe of the level of suffering and loss past generations have endured and yet pushed through. I love reading and learning about their struggles and determination to overcome. We would not be here today to complain about our petty issues if not for our incredibly strong and brave ancestors.
This newest book from Susan Meissner, with her unmatched talent for weaving history through fictional story, is currently my favorite of this category.
In As Bright As Heaven, the outrageous amount of death and loss caused by the Spanish Flu pandemic during WW1 was brought to life through the Bright family. Moving from their safe and quiet life in Quakertown to take over an aging uncle’s funeral home in exciting Philadelphia, the family sees nothing but promise in their future. As they settle into city life, new schools and friends for the girls, new career and financial freedom for mom and dad – an unseen fog of death, a.k.a. the Spanish Flu, is creeping closer, destin to destroy life as they have ever known it.
I had to wait a while after finishing this book before discussing or reviewing. It took some time to reconcile the overwhelming presence of death through the book.
As difficult as it may have been, Susan has taken this little known part of history and wrapped it in a page turning family saga that will stay with you long after the final page.
*An estimated 50 million people died from the Spanish Flu, 1918-19. The nagging voice of conspiracy theorist continues to whisper in the back of my mind – could this have been an early, and horribly successful, attempt of germ warfare? Significantly more people died during this time from the influenza than causality of WW1 (1914-18).