Well-Behaved Indian Women

Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

Published:  July 14, 2020 – Berkley Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little “writing hobby.” But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran’s life, she begins to question not only her future as a psychologist, but her engagement to her high school sweetheart.

Nandini Mehta has strived to create an easy life for her children in America. From dealing with her husband’s demanding family to the casual racism of her patients, everything Nandini has endured has been for her children’s sake. It isn’t until an old colleague makes her a life-changing offer that Nandini realizes she’s spent so much time focusing on being the Perfect Indian Woman, she’s let herself slip away.

Mimi Kadakia failed her daughter, Nandini, in ways she’ll never be able to fix­—or forget. But with her granddaughter, she has the chance to be supportive and offer help when it’s needed. As life begins to pull Nandini and Simran apart, Mimi is determined to be the bridge that keeps them connected, even as she carries her own secret burden. (publisher)

My take:  I loved this story about three generations of women living a modern life with cultural expectations and pressures. From the grandmother in India to her daughter Nandini, a family physician in America, to Nandini’s daughter Simran, ready to finish school and marry the love of her life – all three are on the brink of change.

Saumya Dave had me at page one – completely invested in her characters and the challenges they faced with admirable courage. I was inspired and can’t wait to read more from this talented author. Well-Behaved Indian Women would make a fabulous film.


 

 

Spotlight: The Marriage Game

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Published:  June 9, 2020 – Berkley

Publisher’s Description:

Layla Santos, daughter of first-generation immigrants from India, has found herself in one bad romantic rendezvous after the next, the last of which culminated in a royally catastrophic break-up, complete with a viral video capturing Layla’s less-than-wonderful response to the situation. Quickly finding herself single, jobless, and despondent, Layla returns to San Francisco, where her parents run a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant. 

Layla’s dad only wants the best for his little girl—so of course, he lets her use the office above the restaurant to try her hand at starting her own business. He also secretly signs her up for IndianGirlMatch.com, the perfect place to find a suitable husband. When her dad suddenly falls ill, Layla becomes determined than ever to launch a successful new business and make him proud.

Enter Sam Mehta, also a child of Indian-American immigrants and the self-made CEO of a corporate downsizing agency. When Sam arrives at the office space he rented (which just so happens to be located above a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant), he’s surprised to find the owner’s daughter, Layla, has already settled in. Sam is not about to give up his prime real estate without a fight. 

The pair become fast enemies—until a seemingly random suitor comes calling for Layla, the girl he was matched with on a dating site. Utterly confused, Sam and Layla soon learn about Layla’s father’s game of Cupid—and that he has agreed to meet with a number of hopeful matches for his daughter. Sam agrees to accompany Layla on these dates—until an office romance changes all the rules….


About the author:

THE MARRIAGE GAME is the first in a new OwnVoices romance series from Sara Desai, who also writes under the name Sarah Castille. Sara Desai has been a lawyer, a radio DJ, a historian, a bouncer and a librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and three children.


 

Who Speaks For The Damned

Who Speaks For The Damned by C.S. Harris

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

It’s June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent’s invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.

Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father, and few in London were surprised when they heard the ne’er-do-well had died in disgrace in New South Wales. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow–a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas’s body is discovered.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun, an old friend of the dead man. With Calhoun’s help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl’s ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first. (publisher)

My take:  Who killed the disowned third son of an Earl? That is what Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) wants to find out. And what happened to the young child who came to Devlin’s valet Calhoun after the murder and then disappeared? They need to find him before the person responsible for Hayes’ death finds him as well. This installment of the series had a different feel than the two others I’ve read. A missing child is worrisome. He’s not from England so where would he go? Sebastian investigates. He feels a certain empathy with the deceased man and wants to learn the truth in case he can clear Hayes’ name. As usual, there is the discovery of more dead bodies in the aftermath of Hayes’s murder. The lengths someone will go to keep up appearances is remarkable. With the assistance of his wife Hero and a few other regulars who fans of the series will recognize, Sebastian is determined to solve the case. I really liked this mystery and wonder if there are more for Lord Devlin to solve. Recommended to fans of historical mysteries.


 

Safe House

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Published:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty–or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears. (publisher)

My take:  Charlie (formerly Steffi) wanted to think the best of her perfect boyfriend but little by little their relationship had changed and she worried things wouldn’t work out. So, when detectives came to her workplace one day she provided a false alibi for him. After all, he couldn’t possibly be a murderer, could he? Charlie ended up serving a prison sentence for her part. When she was released she relocated to a little town on the Cornwall coast. She bought a fixer-upper and started to adjust to her new name and a fresh start. As she started to get her bearings she had a feeling that someone was watching her. Was it possible someone knew her true identity? And what did they want with her?

This book kept me on the edge of my seat and quickly turning the pages. I enjoyed the setting, the slow build in the drama, and the tense scenes near the end. It was a twisty, fast read that I enjoyed. I wonder what Jo Jakeman will dream up next.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Published August 27, 2019 – Berkley

Content for this post provided by the publisher

Description:

The headlines have made it known:  driverless cars are coming. And soon. As author John Marrs has put it:  “Whether we like it or not, there are arriving soon. Within the next decade, we will be sitting in the front seats of our vehicles with a flat dashboard containing no steering wheel, and below us, no brakes. We will be in the hands of an operating system that we cannot touch and that we cannot see. It will be making life or death decisions for us. But what if that artificial intelligence could be compromised? What if it is hacked and something – or someone – other than the OS is controlling our destiny?”

Marrs takes that idea and hits full speed in THE PASSENGERS. In it, the British government has mandated all cars be automated. Several years into their implementation, on a seemingly average day, eight people get into their self-driving cars. Suddenly on their journey, the doors lock and the pre-determined route changes. The riders have lost all control. A mysterious voice tells them, “You are going to die.” 

These passengers—an aging actress, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man—are panicked. From cameras hidden in their cars, their frantic pleas for help are broadcast to millions of people around the world. The public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save? Who should we kill first?”

The passengers desperately plead for the lives and sell themselves to the cameras blasting this onto social media. But it soon becomes apparent most of these passengers haven’t been picked randomly. They are all hiding secrets that, once revealed, could be the difference between life and death for each of them.


About the author:

John Marrs is the author of The One which is being made into a 10 part Netflix series, The Good Samaritan, Her Last Move, When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. Until recently, he worked for twenty-five years as a freelance journalist based in London, England, where he interviewed celebrities from the world of television, film, and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, the Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine, and Company. He is now a full-time author.

Praise for THE PASSENGERS:

THE PASSENGERS is a 1970s disaster movie by way of Black Mirror, with an added dash of technology-gone-wrong straight out of Michael Crichton….If you’re looking for a sleek, exhilarating ride, look no further.”— Financial Times

 

“One can almost hear the Hollywood music in the background as the action unfolds; the plot twists are truly gripping….Summer blockbuster entertainment at its best.”— Kirkus Reviews

 

“[THE PASSENGERS’s] strength lies in its well-developed characters and in its exploration of issues such as the growing role of AI, mob psychology, and the ethics of who gets to decide who lives or dies.”— Publishers Weekly

 

“Marrs excels at thrilling readers by creating a real sense of tension and delivering a believable, harsh criticism of modern society through this dark and entertaining story.” —Los Angeles Times

 

“What a ride!”—Booklist


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Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Pub. date:  August 6, 2019 – Berkley Books

Courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help? (publisher)

My take:  A single mysterious event changes the lives of Genevieve, a wealthy East coast woman, and her son Clark. Genevieve was raised to believe that if she followed the rules her mother taught her she would have a perfect life – and she was living that life until a tragedy changed things. Years later she finds herself caring for one granddaughter and then another. As the years go by Genevieve added more armor and turned into a formidable person who was admired by many but feared by her granddaughter, Emma. When Emma doesn’t follow Genevieves rules she is turned away and left to deal with her predicament at her maternal grandfather’s Chicago area home. Fast forward several years and Emma receives a phone call from Genevieve saying she needs her to come to her Connecticut home and help her as she is quite ill. Emma will have to decide if blood is thicker than water and if she should head back East.

This is a novel that addresses messy family dynamics and how people deal when life throws a curve ball. Just could be, life could take a turn in a good way. I loved learning about Genevieve from the perspectives of Emma and her daughter Riley and I was charmed by several supporting characters. Kristan Higgins had me laughing at times and also reaching for a tissue. All in all, another good story from one of my favorite authors.


 

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Published: July 2, 2019 – Berkley Books

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  I have gone by many names, though you most likely know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess. Seductress. A secondary player in someone else’s tale.
 
It is finally time I tell my own story. The truth is not tidy or convenient, but it is certainly more interesting.
 
Before you cast judgment, let me start at the beginning, and you shall learn how an innocent girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe.
 
Because we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong. (publisher)

My take:  Milady is the lively adventure story of Milady de Winter (you’ll recognize the name if you’ve read The Three Musketeers). Told from her POV we learn how she became a legendary spy for Cardinal Richelieu. The Musketeers make appearances but this is Milady’s story. And what a tale it is.

Growing up in the English countryside Clarice, daughter of the mostly absent Lord Paget, is doted on by her mother. She also teaches Clarice about the potency of various herbs and flowers and how to avoid catastrophe when using them. As she grows Clarice learns the manners of a lady and eventually is presented at Court. That marks the end of her childhood. Clarice now learns of palace intrigue and the problems that result when placing one’s trust in the wrong person.

A dual timeline (ten years apart) served to develop the characters and made for some incredible situations that had me reading ‘just one more chapter’! There are some scenes of violence that had me skimming a bit – that’s a warning. That aside, I liked this novel and would love to see Laura Sullivan take other secondary characters and make them the star of their own novel. She succeeded with Milady.


 

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Published June 11, 2019 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant. 

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along. (publisher)

My take:  When Natalie Tan’s estranged mother dies Natalie returns to the home she left seven years ago. Home is a Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco and the people who knew her before her departure are not exactly pleased to see her. She must make amends and hope that they will warm to her once again. She also hopes to find answers to life-long questions concerning her family. She will meet new people, renew old acquaintances and, along the way, create possibilities where there once were none. This is a magical story filled with yummy recipes and charming characters – and left me smiling as I turned the last page.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People by Louise Candlish

Published: June 11, 2019 – Berkley Books

Description:

From the author of the international bestseller Our House, a new novel of twisty domestic suspense asks, “Could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill him?” 

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying—and everyone has something to hide.


About the author:

‘A superb thriller’ Washington Post on OUR HOUSE

Now a #1 bestseller in paperback, ebook and audio and shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2019 Book of the Year – Crime & Thriller!

Louise Candlish studied English at University College London and worked as an editor and copywriter before writing fiction. OUR HOUSE, published in the US by Berkley and by Simon & Schuster in the UK, has been picked as a Book of the Year by the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Real Simple, Red and Heat.

Louise lives in South London with her husband and daughter. Follow her day to day on Twitter at @louise_candlish or get updates at www.louisecandlish.com


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American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

March 2019 – Berkley Books

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description:  Alice may be the president’s daughter, but she’s nobody’s darling. As bold as her signature color Alice Blue, the gum-chewing, cigarette-smoking, poker-playing First Daughter discovers that the only way for a woman to stand out in Washington is to make waves–oceans of them. With the canny sophistication of the savviest politician on the Hill, Alice uses her celebrity to her advantage, testing the limits of her power and the seductive thrill of political entanglements.

But Washington, DC is rife with heartaches and betrayals, and when Alice falls hard for a smooth-talking congressman it will take everything this rebel has to emerge triumphant and claim her place as an American icon. As Alice soldiers through the devastation of two world wars and brazens out a cutting feud with her famous Roosevelt cousins, it’s no wonder everyone in the capital refers to her as the Other Washington Monument–and Alice intends to outlast them all. (publisher)

Guest Review by Bookfan daughter:

Alice Roosevelt was an extraordinary woman who had an untold influence on the history of our country.  As a president’s daughter, another president’s (and first lady’s) cousin, the wife of a Speaker of the House and hostess of tony weekly salons, she seemed to be the definition of a Washington insider for over six decades.  However, Alice felt like an outsider for as long as she could remember. American Princess sweeps the reader though the 20th century with Alice near the center of the action.  Her adventures, scandals, friendships and romantic entanglements all tie back to her complicated relationship with her famous father. For me, the novel was emotionally draining.  Alice endured so much heartache and the author made it easy to share in her pain. I both cheered for Alice and I cringed at her choices but ultimately I shed tears of happiness for how her story ends.


Praise for American Princess:

“As juicy and enlightening as a page in Meghan Markle’s diary.”InStyle

“Presidential darling, America’s sweetheart, national rebel: Teddy Roosevelt’s swashbuckling daughter Alice springs to life in this raucous anthem to a remarkable woman.”—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress


 

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

Trade Paperback published March 2019 – Berkley

Review copy provided by the publisher

My take: A group of university friends spend a holiday at a French farm-house that ends with the disappearance of a beautiful young woman from the house next door. Ten years later the cold case is re-opened when her body is found. The group of friends are at various stages of their careers and have scattered a bit. They’re brought back together now that the case is being investigated by fresh eyes. Told from the perspective of one of the friends, who also occasionally “sees” the dead girl, we get a feel of how everyone has changed over the years. My guess of who was responsible for the crime changed a few times. The pace was good and the closing chapters had me on the edge of my seat and looking forward to Lexie Elliott’s next book.


About the author:

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

lexieelliott.com

instagram.com/lexieelliottwrites


 

Spotlight on: American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

American Princess – A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt

by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; March 12, 2019

Description

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

Published:  February 2019 – Berkley Books

Book courtesy of Berkley

Description:  Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.  (publisher)

My take:  The Matchmaker’s List is the story of Raina, her Nani (grandmother), and Nani’s quest to match Raina before her 30th birthday. As her birthday approaches Raina agrees to date the possible matches on Nani’s list – some with hilarious results, others are more appalling. They only elevate Raina’s frustration with her choices, cultural and personal, and lead her to reveal something that will set a series of events in motion. How will she rein it all back in? The novel, with some unexpected turns, becomes Raina’s journey to figuring out what she really wants in life. Although I was a bit frustrated with her on more than one occasion I ultimately cheered her on.  Recommended to fans of chick lit that you can imagine ending up on the big screen.


 

In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

January 2019 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher

Description:  From the author of Once Upon a Wine, a new novel set in the charming seashore town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.

My take:  I thoroughly enjoyed In Dog We Trust. How could I not enjoy a book that involves adorable dogs (I mean, come on – that cover!), a seaside setting, likeable characters (for the most part) and an entertaining plot. There are shenanigans involving a will, dog people, and assorted other people. It all adds up to a perfect vacation read – could be read on a cross-country flight – or when you’re in the mood for a light, funny read. In Dog We Trust is book 4 in the Black Dog Bay series but it can stand alone.


Praise for Beth Kendrick and her novels:

 

Witty, juicy, and lots of fun!”

Susan MalleryNew York Times bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay

“A smart, funny spin on happily-ever-after!”

Beth HarbisonNew York Times bestselling author of One Less Problem Without You

“Kendrick proves she is the leader of the pack when it comes to fashioning cheekily clever love stories.”

Booklist (starred review)


The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin plus a US Giveaway

  • Title:  The Queen of Hearts
  • Author:  Kimmery Martin
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  February 2018 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.  (publisher)

My take: Kimmery Martin’s debut novel is the story of two friends, betrayal, and the possibility of forgiveness. Zadie and Emma meet in medical school and become dependable friends as they experience the ins and outs of their medical training.

There are highs and lows that I imagine only people who’ve worked in a hospital or shared the common bond of med school can truly understand. Martin’s descriptive writing kept me interested, especially when I didn’t have a clue if what was happening during procedures, etc. was realistic. Given her real life experience as an ER doctor I trusted and went along with the story. I was completely engaged in what transpired in the hospital setting and on a personal level with Zadie and Emma.

I think fans of medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy will enjoy The Queen of Hearts. I look forward to Kimmery Martin’s next novel.


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As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

  • Title:  As Bright As Heaven
  • Author:  Susan Meissner
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  February 2018 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  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. (publisher)

My take:  After suffering a heartbreaking loss, Thomas Bright decides his family should move from their small town to Philadelphia where he will join his uncle’s mortuary business. It will greatly improve their quality of life and the change will be good for them all.

The Bright family settles in nicely at Uncle Fred’s beautiful home. They like their neighbors and slowly become used to the large city. That said, they won’t remain untouched by tragedy for long. These are the harrowing days of WWI and the Spanish Influenza.  As Bright As Heaven is a dramatic and emotional novel that taught me a good deal about the epidemic as well as the life of an undertaker and his family. Susan Meissner conveyed a lot from that unique perspective alone.

I grew to care about the characters – it seemed no one was untouched by the War and/or the flu. Learning and feeling what transpired during important times in history is what I love about Historical Fiction. The Bright family were inspirational in their ability to keep looking for the good in life – doing the best they could with what life handed them. Susan Meissner’s novel is a must read for fans of the genre.