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As Bright as Heaven (2018)

by Susan Meissner

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5585036,371 (4.07)36
"From the darkest hours rises life in all its glory ... 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. Their dreams are short-lived. 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 that surround them, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it. Under the Canopy of 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"--… (more)
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» See also 36 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
It’s weird to reread this book during the pandemic that mimics the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic down to the little details. This story follows Thomas and Paulina along with their three daughters, Evie, Maggie and Willa. They move from Quakertown, PA to Philadelphia right before the outbreak so Thomas can become an undertaker. But before long, tragedy affects the family and they must carry on. Decisions that are made during the flu outbreak will come back to haunt the family seven years later. This book was very easy to read but it did reflect last year a little too closely. I really enjoyed reading about the lives of the girls and how each coped with the day to day life they all had to muddle through. ( )
  dabutkus | Sep 4, 2022 |
Set in 1918 Philadelphia amid the Spanish Flue pandemic, this is enjoyable women's fiction - although there is tragedy, things are okay in the end.

The blurb here says that the story involved a family with three daughters, but honestly, all I remember is the youngest daughter sneaking out of the house to sing at speakeasy and another training to a mortician - or maybe a beautician at the funeral home? Or maybe that wasn't this book at all.

I rated it 4 stars at the time so I must have found it quite enjoyable to read. But, ultimately, forgettable. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jul 6, 2022 |
Well enough written with decent flow, but... the characters are an impressionistic collage which the sparse detailed realistic elbow, profile, selfishness, or yearning makes grotesque rather than believable. A lovely family morning a sad loss moves to Philadelphia just in time for the influenza epidemic to confront them with more loss and strange gains. ( )
  quondame | Nov 20, 2021 |
Amazing to pick this up and suddenly be reading about the Spanish Flu. amid the Covid pandemic! Meissner must have wondered about her own foresight in completing this book prior to any discussion about Covid. Wonderful characters, fascinating story. Could the reader possibly see the ending that was coming...?? Not quite!
  nyiper | Oct 26, 2021 |
Interesting read about a family during the Spanish Flu of 1918. Recommend! ( )
  scoene | Jul 13, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Event succeeds event;
accidents, people, happenings,
one after another come toward us.
Each must be met and dealt with. . . 
For this process of adjustment is life,
and the mastery of it is the art of living. . .
---KARL DE SCHWEINITZ,
The Art of Helping People out of Trouble, 1924
Dedication
For my mother
First words
Morning light shimmers on the apricot horizon as I stand at the place where my baby boy rests.
Quotations
You think you have a view of what's waiting for you just up the road, 
but then something happens,
and you find out pretty quick you were looking at the wrong road.
I think that grief is such a strange guest,
making its home in a person
like it's a new thing that no one has ever experienced before.
Home isn't a place where everything stays the same; it's a place where you are safe and loved despite nothing staying the same.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"From the darkest hours rises life in all its glory ... 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. Their dreams are short-lived. 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 that surround them, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it. Under the Canopy of 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"--

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