A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner– 384 pages
ARC courtesy of the author
February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy. Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark. Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.
My Review: 4 stars
A Bridge Across The Ocean offers multiple storylines about war, romance and ghosts and brings the past into present. Only at the hands of this deft storyteller could this all be brought together so seamlessly.
With two of the three storylines about women escaping their pasts in war torn Europe, there’s never a moment of boredom. One tale surrounds the French Resistance and the other centers on an abusive relationship of a Nazi officer and his wife. The anticipation builds as the reader is waiting to see if, how and when these two women will meet or connect.
Peppered through their stories is one in the present day. Brette’s tale isn’t as intriguing as the others but her role in the novel is crucial. I found her wishy-washy and hoped she could be more committed to her paranormal gifts. With that said, readers who can’t suspend reality or believe in such “gifts” should be forewarned.
Beyond the info I garnered from the plot line, I also learned so much about the Queen Mary and its many roles in history. I found myself trawling the internet in search of more information. After being used as a military wartime ship, the boat’s role changed as the US created the Act of Congress War Brides Act in 1945. This eased the immigration laws substantially. The Queen Mary made at least thirteen war bride voyages carrying thousands upon thousands of European brides and descendants to the US and Canada. It was then refitted as a luxury liner. Additionally, as the author surmises, many do believe this boat is in fact haunted and is a gathering place for those who have not “crossed over”.
I’ve loved many of Susan Meissner’s books, most especially Secrets Of A Charmed Life and A Fall Of Marigolds. They all transport the reader to another place and time and use real fictional events in history to bring the plot together. This one is sure to please her fans.
Quotes I liked:
Don’t despair. There is always a place somewhere in the world where the sun in shining.”