Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

Sometimes, it's all about serendipity. I was at The Poisoned Pen the other night when Jacqueline Winspear was talking about war brides who came over on the Queen Mary, British women who had married American servicemen. Then, I read Susan Meissner's novel, A Bridge Across the Ocean. It's the story of one of those voyages, and three women, two of whom were on that voyage.

Brette Caslake lives in present day San Diego. She has always had "the Sight", but, in her family, it's viewed more as a curse than a blessing. Her aunt saw ghosts, and called them Drifters. She said they came in and out, and she warned Brette not to talk with them. Brette's high school and college mistakes in telling people causes her to hide the Sight from everyone except her husband. He believes her, but he's pushing her to have a child, and she fears she'll pass the gift on to a daughter. It's a high school classmate's daughter that sends Brette to the Queen Mary, where she encounters a strong spirit. Brette's research leads her to stories from World War II.

In 1946, two women joined hundreds of other war brides who were setting out for new lives in America. One was a former ballerina, Annaliese. The other, Simone, watched her father and brother die, executed by the Nazis for their role in the Resistance. Both women have secrets they carry on the ship, stories of tragedy. Only one of those women gets off the Queen Mary in New York.

Meissner's fascinating account  of a little known facet of the World War II story is slowly revealed in a character-rich book. Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale might want to try another novel dealing with the lives of women during the war. Brette's search in contemporary times adds to the interest. Her involvement brings a paranormal element to the book, and a connection to the past.

A Bridge Across the Ocean is a bridge across time, across the gap between life and spirit. Meissner's book also demonstrates a bond, a bridge between women, women who understand heartbreak and tragedy. It's the story of one woman trying to understand her own life while trying to comprehend and help the spirits of the past. The stories are entwined together skillfully and beautifully.

Susan Meissner's website is

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner. Berkley. 2017. ISBN 9780451476005 (paperback), 368p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested the book in order to participate in a blog tour.


Sandie Herron said...

Welcome back Lesa! It was great fun reading the audiobook reviews. Thanks.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Sandie! I appreciate the reviews. It makes it so much easier for me. Thank you!

Ingrid King said...

I loved The Nightingale, even though it was a very difficult book to read. Thank you for this review - I'll add this to my list.