Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “As Bright as Heaven” as Want to Read:
As Bright as Heaven
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

As Bright as Heaven

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  21,038 ratings  ·  3,380 reviews
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 fres
Published February 6th 2018 by Penguin Audio
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about As Bright as Heaven, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Susan Meissner Not sure why it wasn't up on Audible the first day but it was the second. Sorry about that!
Not sure why it wasn't up on Audible the first day but it was the second. Sorry about that!
Jane Their last name was Bright and in the last line of the book when Willa imagines her father and her mother being at a performance in an opera-type hous…moreTheir last name was Bright and in the last line of the book when Willa imagines her father and her mother being at a performance in an opera-type house instead of a speak-easy she imagines that they're smiling at her "as bright as heaven."(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,038 ratings  ·  3,380 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of As Bright as Heaven
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update 4/14/20: I feel like now is a good time to repost this review. Here is a book that echoes very closely what is currently going on in the world.

- - - - -

Susan Meissner’s writing is like a warm hug or a slow dance or a good wine. It just flows seamlessly and gets you into your soul.

Personally, I have a tendency to romanticize the past - historical fiction holds such a dear place in my heart, I love that I can be entertained by fiction while being educated about a period of time. But defin
Angela M
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1918, a family after a tragic loss, moves from Quakertown to Philadelphia when the childless uncle invites the father of this family to work with him as an undertaker and become heir to his business and home. Philadelphia is a place where Thomas Bright thought he could give a better life to his wife and three daughters. They move into the funeral home so how could this book not be about death, given the business ? But death appears in ways that could not be anticipated with the outbreak of the S ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great War. The Spanish flu. A year that took more than just soldiers in 1918.

This one took me by the heart and squeezed it until I lost my breath and then slowly released it.

Such heartache in a family who have experienced the pain of losing a baby. The Bright family moves to Philadelphia in the process of healing and starting a new life by taking over an uncle's funeral business. Death hovers over them on a daily basis until the Spanish flu steps in and takes from them and thousands of othe
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

I had previously read “A Bridge Across The Ocean” by Ms. Meissner and I was anxious to read this new novel. Wow, it is one of the best books that I have read this year!!! The prose is beautiful and flowing and amongst all of the heartache and physical and emotional difficulties the human spirit shines brightly!

The setting is Philadelphia around 1917 and on. The Bright family, husband Thomas, wife Pauline and their three daughters have just move
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just loved this family, the Bright’s. This book begins in 1918 during the Great War and the Spanish flu epidemic, when this family of five, the parents and three daughter’s moves from Quakertown to Philadelphia. The father’s uncle gives him the job of undertaker to his funeral home and heir to his estate.
The chapters are told in alternating chapters by the woman and girls of the family.
From life in the funeral home, the neighbors, the Great War, the flu, prohibition... so much touched on in th
Diane S ☔
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1918, Philadelphia, a city with many opportunities, a city that the Bright family, Pauline, Thomas and their three daughters move to for just that purpose. Thomas's elderly, childless uncle wants them to live in his large house, and for Thomas to train and takeover his mortuary business. Leaving Quakertown behind, this is what the family looks forward to, a new and better life, especially after the tragedy of a terrific loss.

I fell in love with this family, and we hear individually from each of
Elyse  Walters
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition by Cassandra Morris, Tavia Gilbert, Jorjeana Marie, and Abigail Revasch

The first thing I noticed from the Audiobook is that the reader/readers SPEAKING VOICES WERE GOOD- they had the potential to hold my attention, but I honestly thought some of the writing felt like a package of store bought cookies. The tempo didn’t have many ranges - The cookies - characters - were lined up in a row in their container- waiting their turn to be eaten ( to speak and share their point of view).
Susanne  Strong
5 Brilliant Stars

Evocative and heartfelt.

The Brights lost something immeasurable. Little Henry. And now they are left empty, searching for something they can’t quite express. Unable to fill it, they leave Quakertown for Philadelphia. Finding a new home with Uncle Fred, living in his Funeral Home, helping with the family business.

Pauline misses her son Henry desperately. Working for Fred, doing makeup and hair for the deceased, she has found a way to cope. Her middle daughter Maggie helps with
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brenda and I were lost in a coulee with four of our Traveling Sisters reading As Bright as Heaven and we were all drawn into this eye-opening, emotional, and heartbreaking read. It led to a very interesting discussion where we shared our thoughts on the things that we learned from this read and also our thoughts on grief.

AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN by SUSAN MEISSNER is a story about love, loss and family. It was such a fantastic, enjoyable and beautifully written historical fiction novel that we thorou
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 oh my gosh I loved this story stars

Sometimes a story just comes together and as you unwrap its layers, you find yourself more and more in love with what was written. This was the case with this reader. Susan Meissner told this story with love and a devotion to show us what the ravages of a world war and a deadly disease, that of the Spanish influenza did to families. The loss of life from both of these tragedies was staggering and no one came away unblemished in some part. Following the Bright
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Perfection! I absolutely adored this novel. I have never read anything about the Spanish Flu and was astounded at the number of people & families it affected. Meissners writing is flawless. She draws you in with her remarkable characters and storytelling. This is a novel not to be missed! 5+ stars. ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
As Bright as Heaven is truly an impressive work of Historical Fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Following three sisters, and their mother, in Philadelphia during the time of the Spanish flu epidemic, we cycle through each woman's perspective throughout the story.

All of the ladies were dealing with issues involving what society expected of them, based solely on their gender, which I felt makes this a pertinent piece of Women's Literature as well.

One very interesting aspect of this is that
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3. 5 Stars
A nice easy read that was entertaining and insightful in bringing the flu epidemic to the attention of readers who like myself may not have read much about this time in history.

I listened to this one on audio and the narrators were good. I enjoy historical fiction stories that take a time in history that readers may not have been too familiar with and weave it into a story. As Bright As Heaven is set in Philadelphia around 1918 when men were were leaving in their droves to fight the G
4.5 stars

This was my first book by this author. I love her writing and will be looking for more of her books. This novel focuses on the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that killed more people than WWI. “The flu took whoever it wanted, no matter what any of us did or didn’t do.” And often it took healthy young adults, which sounds scarily familiar to what we experienced this year. I knew about the Spanish flu as a fact I’d learned in history books but this book brings it up close and personal by loo
Carol (Bookaria)
This is a wonderful novel that takes place when the Spanish flu epidemic hit the world in 1918.

It appears that the words "Spanish flu" and "wonderful" should not be in the same sentence but in this case what makes the book captivating are its characters.

The novel follows the Bright family as it sets in Philadelphia. While they just moved in and are getting settled, world events like the Great War (WWI) and the Spanish flu bring tragedy and challenges into their lives.

The novel is told from al
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 GLORIOUS stars (and 5 random thoughts):

1. My first ARC! Thank you to the publisher for providing my with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

2. Apparently, 100 years ago, fifty-million people worldwide perished from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the deadliest disease in history and I had NO idea. As the backdrop for this novel, I was enthralled.

3. The story follows the alternating perspectives of a wife and her 3 resilient daughters as they make a new life in Philadelphia. The
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five BRIGHT stars!!

“…it’s not how short or long an experience is; it’s the depth to which it touches the core of who you are that matters.”

I feel like I should send Susan Meissner a thank you note for giving us this gem of a book. I wanted to hug it and never let go. Lovers of historical fiction, here is a novel you’ll want to snuggle up with as soon as possible!

As Bright As Heaven is the story of the Bright family, who leaves their tobacco farm to head to the big city of Philadelphia. With thi
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

From a small town in Pennsylvania as a family rolling tobacco leaves for a living to Philadelphia as a family living and working in a funeral home.

The Brights made a big change from their quiet life in Quakertown to the noisy, big city of Philadelphia. Both the city and the job Thomas Bright had were quite different from what they were used to.

The girls had to leave their friends and make new ones, but most folks weren't interested in being friends with a funeral director's daughter. Pauline Bri
I read the entire, but the last PART which occurred in 1925 I read far more quickly than the rest.

No synopsis in any detailed measure but the short or tall of subject matter with my reaction.

It's a heartfelt tale of a family by the separation narrator sections for each female individual's "eyes". Constantly flipping. Three daughters and their Mother. (So 4 different narrator divisions for the basic form.) And most of the tale occurs in 1918-19 surrounding the Spanish Flu epidemic within Philad
Cindy Burnett
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sue Meissner’s books just get better and better with each new one; every time I pick up her latest book I hope that it will be as good as her last ones, and instead I end up liking the newest one the most. Very few authors can sustain that level of excellence; it is quite an impressive feat. As Bright as Heaven is simply fantastic: Meissner’s tale is fascinating, heartbreaking and an all-around beautifully written book. Moreover, her characters are well-developed, authentic and believable. Using ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
[2.4] Why would I read a novel about the 1918 influenza pandemic in the midst of the 2020 pandemic? Well, I thought perhaps some historical perspective might be useful. But this is the wrong novel to give me anything - except for boredom. The writing is pedestrian, the characters underdeveloped and the ending forced and implausible.
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Reading The Pull of the Stars awakened in me a curiosity about the 1918 Great Influenza. So, when a friend recommended As Bright As Heaven, I picked it up.
The story covers the Bright family. They move from Quakertown to Philadelphia so the father can work with his uncle in the family business. That business happens to be a mortuary. But they also move to escape the stark reminders of a family tragedy. We hear from the mother and each of the three daughters. I thought this narrative style worked
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed As Bright as Heaven, a historical fiction story set in Philadelphia from 1918 through the mid-1920s. The story revolves around the Bright family: parents, Thomas and Pauline, and their three daughters, Evie, Maggie, and Willa. There are plenty of additional characters in the story, but it’s primarily told through the daughters’ POVs.

Thomas is an undertaker, working in business with his uncle Fred at their funeral home, and becomes extremely busy with work as a result of the Spa
Hazel Gaynor
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very lucky to read an ARC of Susan Meissner's forthcoming novel and it totally swept me away. Beautifully written and vividly imagined, AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN is a mesmerizing portrayal of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, a devastating event in our global history that I haven't read about in such depth before. The author deals with the subject with grace and sensitivity, while drawing the reader into the wonderfully constructed world of her female protagonists - a mother and her three daught ...more
Lisa Wingate
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the loveliest benefits of author life is being given the opportunity to peruse upcoming books before they make their way to the rest of the world. When an early copy of Bright as Heaven came my way (still in a plain white wrapper, no gorgeous cover yet), I couldn't wait to crack open the pages. Rich in historical detail, Bright as Heaven is a vivid journey into an almost unimaginable time. Pauline, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa face loss, transition, change, and uncertainty with grace and resi ...more
Connie G
"As Bright As Heaven" shows how the love of their family keeps the Bright family on a hopeful course during a difficult historical time. The family and their neighbors are touched by World War I, the deadly Spanish Flu of 1918, and Prohibition. Thomas Bright's childless uncle invites the family to move to Philadelphia, and offers to train Thomas to take over his mortuary business. His wife, Pauline, and their three daughters take turns narrating the story. An orphaned baby becomes a symbol of ho ...more
Pam Jenoff
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to have an early read of this wonderful book set in Philadelphia around the outbreak of WWI. It is a unique premise and gloriously written!
4.5 stars rounded up.
This is a beautifully written book of historical fiction centered around the time of the Spanish Flu outbreak and WWI.
The Brights, a farm family with three daughters, move to Philadelphia in 1918 to help their uncle in his mortuary business. When both WWI and the Spanish Flu break out, they find they are overwhelmed by the losses and sacrifices they must deal with. In the midst of their grief, they take in an orphaned baby. As time passes, each of the daughters must find h
I simply LOVE this bittersweet yet charming, beautifully rendered, character rich and storyline enchanting work of historical fiction with subtle hints of supernatural wonder.

Once again, Susan Meissner has written a sure to be best seller that will withstand the test of time and appeal to many readers across genres. I read this as a library book, but I think I need purchase a copy for my collection of favorites.

FULL REVIEW - With Sincerest Intentions - TO COME.

Oh . . . if only time would stand
The Spanish Flu is not something I know very much about and admittedly it’s not something that I’ve ever had a great interest in but Meissner writes such gorgeous prose that I was utterly fascinated by it while reading this. I honestly think she could write about anything and I would be at least mildly engaged but I was completely captivated by the Bright family and their tragic tale.

This is told via the perspectives of all of the women in the Bright family, even the youngest and I loved the bir
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Book of Lost Friends
  • This Tender Land
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • The Book of Lost Names
  • The Giver of Stars
  • Dear Edward
  • The Lions of Fifth Avenue
  • Lost Roses (Lilac Girls, #2)
  • The Pull of the Stars
  • The Book of Longings
  • The Things We Cannot Say
  • The Orphan Collector
  • The Last Train to Key West
  • The Vanishing Half
  • Code Name Hélène
  • The Dutch House
  • The Lost Girls of Paris
  • Carnegie's Maid
See similar books…
Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When sh

Related Articles

Her Favorite Books About Gone with the Wind: Don't think about it tomorrow! Read these picks now from the author of Stars Over Sunset Boulevard,...
8 likes · 5 comments
“Home isn't a safe place where everything stays the same; it's a place where you are safe and loved despite nothing staying the same.” 21 likes
“Change always happens... We adjust to it. Somehow we figure out a way. We straighten what we can or learn how to like something a little crooked. That's how it is. Something breaks, you fix it as best you can. There's always a way to make something better, even if it means sweeping up the broken pieces and starting all over. That's how we keep moving, keep breathing, keep opening our eyes every morning, even when the only thing we know for sure is that we're still alive.” 13 likes
More quotes…