Susan Meissner’s compelling ‘Bridge Across the Ocean’

While I was attending the virtual Historical Novel Society conference in late June, I heard Susan Meissner speak about her books.

As soon as she was finished speaking, I went looking for her books. She has written several with dual timelines and I wanted to see her work.

I found A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN first and dove in immediately. Once I started I couldn’t stop.

This is a story of the Queen Mary, a British ship that now is docked in Long Beach, California, serving as a hotel, restaurant and tourist attraction.

In its past, not only was it a luxury ocean liner that carried the beautiful people across the Atlantic, it was a troop ship—Personal note: I learned yesterday my Uncle Jack was one of its passengers when he was sent to England to begin his service during World War II—and it brought war brides from Southampton to New York once the war was over.

But this historical novel combines the story of two of these war brides in 1946 with a modern-day story of a woman with the gift of seeing ghosts. She goes on a quest to find the war brides to clear up a bit of tragic history.

This has everything World War II novel fans love: Nazis, Resistance fighters, brave soldiers and brave civilians.

I loved the dual timeline, too. Both stories are compelling. The war brides are escaping difficult pasts and uncertain futures. They don’t exactly click—I’ll let you read for yourself why not.

The modern story involves a young woman who really doesn’t like being able to see ghosts, or as she calls them “drifters.” But during a visit to the Queen Mary, she meets a ghost who compels her to find out about those two war brides and their British cabin mate who doesn’t get the full character treatment. (It’s the only thing I would have liked more of–but I relished the stories I did get.) She believes she has to solve the question presented to her before she can move on with her life as a wife and maybe a mother.

I can’t recommend it enough. It’s full of romance, fantasy, history. What a pleasure to read.

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