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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War comes a novel set during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, telling 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.  

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than 12,000 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. Amid 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.

©2018 Susan Meissner (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“A story of one family’s heartbreak and hope. Strong [and] resilient, Meissner’s characters step off the page and into history.” (Lisa Wingate, New York Times best-selling author of Before We Were Yours

“A family saga, coming-of-age tale, and riveting historical fiction all in one. A must read!” (Pam Jenoff, New York Times best-selling author of The Orphan's Tale)

“A thoughtful examination of life...somber, gripping, and illuminated with hope.” (Kate Quinn, USA Today best-selling author of The Alice Network

What listeners say about As Bright as Heaven

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A lovely story

Which of us hasn't wondered what happens to a body after the funeral director take it. This book begins in 1918, the war is still raging, the flu is yet to strike the world but it is getting ready to and three young girls and their parents are embarking on a new life in Philadelphia where the father is to work in a funeral parlor. The story progresses smoothly, and is read in parts by the girls as they grapple with life. It's not a long book and it's very thoughtful, almost unforgettable.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-05-2018

As Bright as Heaven

Being an avid reader, it takes an exceptional author for me to say" wow, I didn't see that coming ! " 3 times I was surprised by the twist and turns of the story. Most of the time I can anticipate a story line or ending way before it happens. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Susan's books. Narrating Complimented the story, very well done!!!!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Hello Alysha
  • 18-04-2018

Spanish Flu and Community

Any additional comments?

Susan Meisner doesn’t disappoint! This was so interesting...and I found myself thinking what would I have done in that situation?!?! It is jarring and fascinating how epidemics impact community and this is a fascinating story of one family and its impact on them.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Emily
  • 13-06-2018

Good story, but slow start

I enjoyed this book overall, the characters were interesting, the historical perspective on the Spanish flu is fascinating, and the writing was great. Still, the story started out really slow and there was a moment when I thought I was just going to quit listening to it. But I’m glad that I kept on because the story ended up getting a lot better about 1/3 of the way through and I was riveted until the end after that.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ngareffa
  • 25-09-2018

Amazing Story. Great Readers.

I absolutely loved this book. I obsessively listened to it in my car, at the gym and on my Alexa. Wonderful characters that I won’t forget anytime in the near future. The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 is told through the voices of the Bright girls-young Willa, Maggie and Evie- older sisters whose compassion propel the story through war and illness and death. It is their hopeful voices that cause you to care about them and the outcome of their stories.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-09-2020

Really enjoyed this book

The story line was captivating. The readers were fantastic. This book was full of insight, emotion, and realness.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Alice Infranco
  • 26-06-2020

Book Love 💗 📚

A friend chose this book for our June 2020 book club choice. I thoroughly enjoyed this book 100% and strongly recommend it to readers to enjoy during the current pandemic. Characters are all beautiful, inside and out. Narrators are highly talented. I held on so tight through to the end. Now that it’s over, I “miss” it!!!

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  • Noelle Vernoy
  • 07-02-2019

Love the narration of this

I didn’t want it to end. So good. Well read. Great story of hardship and triumph.

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  • N. Worth
  • 22-01-2021

So hard during pandemic

I should not have read this during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a lot to handle. But the story is so good and told so well and I loved each of the characters so much. But there is a lot of things in this story that could be very triggering. So much loss and hardship and if you can relate to those specific problems, it's rough. However, thats also why it's such a great story.

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  • Jennifer Fife
  • 13-07-2020

I loved this story.

This story touched my heart and helped me heal. I loved how the story was laid out and enjoyed the different readers representing the different characters.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kres
  • 07-07-2020

I love this book!

This book is beautiful! I loved everything about it. It was full of love and hope and sweetness. It is the perfect book for a teen or a mom, like I am. It is written beautifully and honestly, I just loved it.

2 people found this helpful

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