Apparently during WWII 100,000 European women married American soldiers! So after the war, the U.S. government sent thousands of these women to America on The Queen Mary luxury liner, which is now docked in Long Beach, CA.
The latest of my many WWII fiction reads, A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner, follows the stories of three war brides as they experience the horrors of the war, meet their husbands, and later make the trip on the Queen Mary “across the ocean.” Of course as in many modern novels the chapters jump back and forth between past and present so a reader learns key information at various times to make the story most intriguing.
The strikingly different aspect of this book – compared with all the other WWII fiction I have read – is that it has a fantastical element to it. Specifically, the main “present day” character has “The sight” meaning she can communicate with “drifters” or ghosts. The drifters she runs into on The Queen Mary (apparently this ship is known to be haunted) are trying to set the record straight about what exactly happened when one of those three brides did not end up disembarking in America.
I was initially turned off by this ghost part of the story line especially because it begins the book in a setting of a modern day baby shower where a guest sees a drifter. I wasn’t sure I was reading the right book…I remember thinking “Wait – I thought this was supposed to be about WWII?!” And much of the book, perhaps too much, takes place in the present day.
However, I ended up enjoying the characters and story lines, and as much as it would have surprised me to be saying so during that first chapter, I do recommend this book as an enjoyable and refreshingly different read.
The stories of all those war brides are particularly fascinating to me, and in her acknowledgements, the author references the website uswarbrides.com which tells hundreds of real WWII war bride stories. I plan to spend some time on this website, and even though Meissener’s book is fiction and fantastical (depending on what you may or may not believe) she has certainly written an entertaining book on a interesting subject, and I am thankful for being enlightened about this piece of WWII history.
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to download this book in exchange for an honest review.
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