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A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner is a historical women’s fiction novel that approaches the topic of World War II through the lens of war brides, women who married US servicemen and then faced the unbelievable hurdle of immigrating to America to be with their husbands after the war.
War Brides in A Bridge Across the Ocean
This was another refreshing take on World War II after I had just finished The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams. I had never read a book about war brides, and I’m not sure I ever understood what was needed to be allowed to marry a US servicemen. This book goes into amazing historical detail to explain just what these women endured.
I love a strong female character, and A Bridge Across the Ocean boasts many of them. By utilizing the perspective of war brides, you can’t help but witness the amazing struggles these women overcame. Which leads to the next interest piece of this book.
This story centers on three women during the World War II timeline and one woman in present day San Diego. The war bride characters of the World War II timeline, Phoebe, Simone, and Annalise, are transported to America on the Queen Mary, which is now docked in retirement in Long Beach, CA, near where our present day heroine happens to live.
All of these women are facing similar obstacles and each of them respond to these obstacles in different ways. Now understand each female character has a radically different story. Simone is French and her story is riddled with the effects of being in German-controlled France during the war. Phoebe is a nervous woman married to a US serviceman who is just trying to get to America with her young son. Annalise is a German, forced to marry a German ministry official who is physically abusive.
The present day character, Brette, can see dead people. (I’m going to discuss the supernatural element of this book later as it could be a potential trigger issue for some readers.) Brette is faced with the decision of whether or not have a child with her husband who may carry on her ability.
Like Looking in a Mirror
So this is where it gets interesting. By the time I was about halfway through this book I began to feel as though all of these women were one person and each decision they were forced to make was like looking at this woman in a series of mirrors, so you’re actually seeing the same person from multiple angles.
It was an extraordinary affect, and I’m not sure it’s one the author intended. But it turned the entire book into almost a choose your own adventure novel. I was dying to see what decision each woman would make. It was fascinating to see how this novel kept you guessing right until the very end. All of these factors combined made this a great, fast read.
Some things can creep into books that readers may struggle to deal with, so I like to point them in case a book contains something you’d rather avoid. I don’t read books about dogs. I completely understand.
Potential trigger issues in A Bridge Across the Ocean include:
- Rape (This happens on screen and is central to one of the main character’s story.)
- Supernatural (I bring this up because I was surprised at how in depth the author goes with this. If you’re easily frightened, take this as a warning.)
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This was a fast quick read for me because I was sucked into the story immediately with the premise of WWII war brides. I have a non-fiction book on WWII war brides that I’ve had for years that I’m going to read next because this book piqued my interest so much. If you’re looking for a fresh take on World War II fiction, this may just be your book.
Have you read A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner?
Tell us what you thought in the comments below, but please – no spoilers!