Title: A Bridge Across the Ocean
Author: Susan Meissner
Copyright: March 14, 2017
Format: E-Book, 369 Pages, $8.92 [Amazon Paperback], $32.52 [Amazon Hardcover], $11.99 [Kindle], $19.60 [Audible], $8.92 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $31.86 [Barnes & Noble Hardcover], $11.99 [Nook], $11.99 [Google Play], $11.99 [iBooks], $23.95 [iBooks Audiobook]
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 Résistance 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.
What first grabbed my attention about A Bridge Across the Ocean was the book cover. On the cover is a pretty auburn-haired woman in a 1950’s style dress with pearls and candy apple red lipstick. She had this sort of half-smile or smirk, I’m unsure which. Either way, it definitely caught my attention!
A Bridge Across the Ocean is a tale about three women whose lives are inexplicably linked: Brette Caslake, Annaliese Lange, and Simone Deveraux. The only catch is that Annaliese and Simone live in 1940’s war-torn Europe while Brette lives in modern-day America. What connects them? None other than the glorious cruise ship, the Queen Mary.
Brette Caslake is by all means an ordinary woman but even in her ordinariness, there is something extraordinary about her. The truth is that Brette has the ability to see ghosts, something she hasn’t yet fully grasped or understood. All she knows is that the ability is inherited from her mother’s side and that only females can possess this skill. Despite her unique disposition, she is happily married to Keith, a man who accepts her for who she is. Things take a strange turn when an acquaintance from high school suddenly reaches out to Brette to ask her to investigate aboard the Queen Mary.
Meanwhile in the 1940’s…
Life has been anything but easy for Simone Deveraux from the moment that the Germans invaded her beautiful France. When her father and brother are gunned down by the bloodthirsty Gestapo, something inside Simone snaps. She dedicates herself to helping La Résistance wage war against the unwelcome interlopers. Her life takes an interesting turn when she meets Lieutenant Everett Robinson, an American who she is helping to hide. When love blossoms between the two, Simone doesn’t see it coming.
Annaliese Lange is a young woman who has quite literally wanted for nothing. For most of her life she has enjoyed taking ballet classes and performing on stage. When the Nazis come into power, Annaliese and her aristocratic family want nothing to do with them. Trouble comes in the name of a young Nazi officer Rolf Kurtz who is positively infatuated with Annaliese when he sees her perform in Sleeping Beauty. Forced to marry Rolf, she soon realizes just how controlling he is. With little other recourse available to her, Annaliese looks for a way out.
In A Bridge Across the Ocean, Susan Meissner writes her prose rather beautifully and the storytelling is top-notch. On average, I am not a huge fan of stories where there are multiple protagonists and there’s a great deal of jumping around between time periods. Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised with this story. The plot was refreshing and a bit of a strange but wild goose chase. In the end, I was entirely caught off-guard by the wonderful twists and it made the story all the more delightful. The characters were dynamic, well-rounded, and it was easy to relate to them. The one character that left me reeling was that eel of a man, Rolf Kurtz. It’s like eating something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. When reflecting on Annaliese’s situation, I can only think upon it with utter revulsion and horror. I quickly developed an appreciation for Annaliese.
The pacing of the story was steady but there were moments when it was a tad slow. However, the end of the story made the slow moments worth it. It was clear that the different scenes were building up to the climax, which was fantastic. While it was difficult for me to pin down any pertinent themes in this particular tale, I felt that freedom was one undeniable theme. Freedom played an important part in the the lives of Brette, Annaliese, and Simone (but in vastly different ways). The tone and atmosphere of the book was thoughtful and in certain parts, dark. A Bridge Across the Ocean left me with a feeling of awe and of joy. Of all the books I’ve read thus far in 2017, this has to be the most fascinating and captivating one!