Official Synopsis from Goodreads: Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women past and present in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.
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.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: WWII France, the RMS Queen Mary in 1946, and modern day San Diego
*** I received an eARC copy from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***
Review: Beautiful historical fiction that is entertaining and readable, but ultimately falls a little flat.
A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner is told in a back-and-forth way, and I really love books that are told in this format. Going back and forth between current day San Diego and Brette Caslake, and World War II era Simone Devereux and Annaliese Kurtz, A Bridge Across the Ocean has intriguing women in each period, and an interesting story.
In modern times, Brette has a special gift: she can see and speak with ghosts. She visits the Queen Mary in Long Beach, and sees a ghost and hears a mystery that she tries to solve. In the time of WWII, Simone is hiding from the Nazis, and so is Annaliese, but both of them are fleeing for different reasons, and part of the magic of the book is seeing how their stories come together.
After WWII, Simone and Annaliese each find themselves on the RMS Queen Mary, as it makes one of many “war brides” voyages across the Atlantic, shuttling women to their American husbands. This information about the Queen Mary and war brides was interesting, and something I hadn’t heard of before, so this book was illuminating in that regard. I’ve always had a fascination with the Queen Mary, and one day I’d like to visit it in Long Beach.
In terms of characters, I liked Brette and Annaliese. Simone felt undeveloped to me, and she probably has the least amount of time spent on her, and she almost felt like an afterthought. I needed more time with her and her story to fully connect to her. Annaliese was one heck of a strong woman, and I really wanted her to succeed and escape. Brette also was interesting, and I found myself enjoying her sections the most, which is quite unusual for me, as I don’t normally care for any kind of paranormal plotline. But the paranormal is handled very well here, and is absolutely not scary in any way; so for those leery of picking up this book because of the paranormal aspect, don’t let that keep you from reading! It is really more of a way to connect the past and the present together, and I think we all would like those with unfinished business to be able to move on.
In terms of plot, I did feel a bit manipulated and underwhelmed with the ending of the book. One of the narrators of the book is a ghost, and it is a mystery as to who the ghost is. I found the ghost reveal to be a bit lackluster, and I felt like the book wanted me to feel something that I just wasn’t feeling. Another issue I had with the book was that I seriously disliked Brette’s husband, Keith. He was never all that understanding of Brette and her abilities, and I just can foresee problems down the line for them.
For those who read the synopsis and are still interested in this book, definitely give it a chance! It was beautifully told, and the scenes about the Queen Mary were fascinating, and it is a fast read. I just didn’t quite connect to the ending, but I did enjoy this book.
Bottom Line: Interesting historical fiction with a unique WWII story, but the ending falls a bit flat. I rated A Bridge Across the Ocean four stars on Goodreads.
A Bridge Across the Ocean releases March 14, 2017.
Link to my review of Susan Meissner’s A Fall of Marigolds, which tells a back-and-forth story of 9/11 New York City and 1911 Ellis Island.
Link to the Queen Mary official website! One day I’ll get here!
Does this sound like a different WWII story? Have you read any of Susan Meissner’s other books? Have you visited the Queen Mary?