A Bridge Across the Ocean

A Bridge Across the Ocean

by Susan Meissner


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Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women—past and present—in this emotional novel from the acclaimed author of As Bright as Heaven.
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451476005
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/14/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 171,420
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Bridge Across the Ocean, Secrets of a Charmed Life, A Fall of Marigolds, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, and As Bright as Heaven, among other novels.

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** 

Copyright © 2017 Susan Meissner

Reading Group Guide

A Bridge Across the Ocean

Susan Meissner

1. A Bridge Across the Ocean opens with a spectral encounter aboard the RMS Queen Mary on the first day of her maiden voyage, followed by Brette’s unwanted meeting with a ghost in the present day at a baby shower. What was your initial reaction to these two scenes? Have you ever experienced something that had no earthly explanation? If you had Brette’s strange ability, what do you think you would do with it?

2. Which of the three war brides—Annaliese, Simone, or Phoebe—did you most connect with emotionally? Why?

3. Talk for a moment about the friendship between Annaliese and Katrine. What do you think drew them together? Have you ever had or do you have a friend like these two had in each other? What do you think Katrine would have thought of Annaliese’s decision to board the Queen Mary the way that she did?

4. Would you have made all the same life-changing choices that Simone and Annaliese made?

5. When Katrine falls in love with John, Annaliese remarks that they’ve only known each other a short while. Katrine says that it seems like longer, “as if to suggest Annaliese surely knew that love didn’t take note of calendar pages.” Do agree or can you relate? Why do you think Simone and Everett also fell in love over a stretch of just weeks?

6. Early in the book, Aunt Ellen tells Brette that the Drifters are “afraid of what they can’t see, just like us. It’s as if there’s a bridge they need to cross. And it’s like crossing over the ocean, Brette. They can’t see the other side. So they are afraid to cross it.” Have you ever faced a figurative bridge you had to cross where you couldn’t see the other side? What did you do?

7. As Simone prepares to leave her old life behind to board the Queen Mary, she reflects on the people who stood in as parental figures when she desperately needed them: Madame Didion, Henri and Collette, the older British couple who helped her prepare for the sailing. How do you think these people made their mark on Simone? Why do you think Simone thought it best not to stay in contact with Phoebe after they immigrated to America? Was it the right choice?

8. Were Brette’s fears about passing on her special ability completely understandable? Would you have had the same fears? Would you have had children anyway, if you were Brette?

9. When Annaliese is about to be detained on the ship and Simone decides to intervene and help her, she says to Annaliese: “If I do nothing when I know I can help you, I can never again be the girl that I was, I will only ever be that other girl, the one the war tried to make of me.” What do you think she means here? What is at stake for her?

10. Discuss the idea that the ship is an entity with a soul. What was your reaction to this revelation? Do you have a special fondness for a place that feels like it is more than just a mere location?

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A Bridge Across the Ocean 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. The author moved between the 2 time periods easily and even tho I am not too interested in ghosts, she actually made it believable! It kept my interest until the end, not knowing how the book would end. GOOD BOOK! READ IT !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book as all the other books I have read of Susan Meissner. I wasn’t sure I would like it when I first read about the paranormal aspect but it turn out to be a great read. The characters were wonderful and I loved the historical ties back to the war brides.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Once the paranormal came up I wasn't interested anymore .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story about strong women who each had their own struggles, and needed to make difficult decisions to work through them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Let me start by saying I am a huge Susan Meissner fan and even after this read I will continue to read her, she is a star author when it comes to historical fiction and I haven't even finished all of her backlist. When I was pitched this book, I didn't read the synopsis because I knew that I would love it and after starting the book I went back and re read it and was surprised that a big plot point wasn't even hinted at in the synopsis. So there are ghosts and characters who can talk with ghosts and I don't tend to read books with these in them, so I was sad when it started but pushed on because I love this author and the characters beyond their abilities were interesting. And that is what I would say after I read the book, I loved the plot and the characters, I just kind of wish they didn't have special capabilities.
MelissaGH More than 1 year ago
Mystery and wonder are found on each page of this great story. The Queen Mary ship is full of people with unique stories of life and death. Circumstances cause Brette Caslake to become involved in finding the truth to an old mystery and also, to possibly help a family in need of closure. The way the author describes the "ghosts" in the story made me feel as if I could have been there on the ship with the wind blowing across my skin. No scary "ghosts" in this story. I enjoyed this story very much and look forward to reading more by author Susan Meissner.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
I give this book a five out of five stars. I loved how this went from the past and the present.this was very well done. I don't always enjoy stories that go between the past and present but this one flowed well. I never got lost. I laughed and cried during this book. I loved the characters. I received an ebook copy of this book from Firsttoread for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Two of my favorite genres combined in one amazing book. A Bridge Across the Ocean is a historical fiction book with a twist of paranormal. I will admit that the historical aspect managed to catch my attention more than the paranormal side but together they made this one of my best of 2017 books. The story of Annaliese and Simone traveling as war time brides to America to join their US soldiers in their homeland was phenomenal. I loved learning about their experiences in Europe while WWII was happening and how they had to adjust to life during war. As with many WWII books written about women, I was amazed at all they had to do just to stay alive. The strength and persistence of Simone and Annaliese is what has truly stayed with me after finishing the story. Brette’s story was present time. I wasn’t as drawn to her story but it was interesting. Her husband bothered me, for some reason I struggled with his treatment of her. I felt like he was pushy and rather selfish. The RMS Queen Mary, which was used as a transport for war time brides, provided the paranormal part of the story. I have heard of ships being referred to as alive and with feelings and Susan Meissner did a great job of bringing the Queen Mary to life. The tour of the ship by Brette was incredibly detailed and I was hopeful for what she was hoping to find. I definitely recommend picking up your own copy. The 3 points of view and different time periods make this a book I could not stop reading.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Brette has a gift she fears greatly. She sees ghosts. It’s a skill that passes randomly through generations and she worries she could pass it on to her own daughter. She has learned that if she looks away, she doesn’t have to communicate with each appearance. But she’s also been warned that there are evil spirits as well as benevolent ones, therefore she should avoid getting involved in any way because it might turn disastrous. Easier said than done! She winds up communicating with one, finding out about a 70 year-old tragedy on the Queen Mary and deciding to investigate. This makes for a wild adventure where she also meets other women who have the same skill or curse, depending on one’s point of view. Simone Deveraux sees her father and brother murdered during WWII and escapes only to suffer a grievous wrong. She escapes anew and winds up free and falling in love with a very unlikely man. Annaliese Lange marries a brutal Nazi soldier. She however escapes to live with a childhood friend, Katrine. They suffer a terrible wartime event and Annaliese escapes, taking the name of Katrine who had married an American soldier. Annaliese wonders how much she will have to pay for the false act she has committed. These three women are now on the Queen Mary, a ship used both for wartime troops and the brides of American soldiers traveling to America while their spouses are away fighting the war. Their stories now converge as Brette leads the investigation of the mystery she promised to explore. WWII in the 1930s was a period time fraught with disaster and love affairs, mostly the former. It brought out all that is good and all that is ugly in millions of characters. A Bridge Across the Ocean unites these three women who are decent at heart but have learned about the motives of those who in a flash of a moment act with and without any integrity. Sue Meissner writes a fine mystery full of adventure and dynamic characters. The ghosts are sometimes benign, sometimes horrifyingly malicious! Enjoy the read! Nicely done, Ms. Meissner!
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner, © 2017 The Trans-Atlantic Crossing of European War Brides on the Luxury Liner RMS Queen Mary "Here's a link to a video of war bride, June Allen, who I became friends with in the research and writing of this book. You will love her..." ~ author Susan Meissner After watching this video, Queen Mary ~ War Brides (June Allen), I was excited to be able to read Susan Meissner's A Bridge Across the Ocean! I really liked the intro of the ladies we would be traveling with, their back story, before they got on the ship. This gave me a feel for their thoughts and reasoning for their actions when they got together. Amazing, actually, as I was unaware the brides were sent on ships to meet their husbands in America. Somehow, I thought they came together as a couple, as anyone would travel. Mistaken! I came to care for each one individually, to root for them, before they boarded the ship and the adventure before them. RMS Queen Mary This is a composite of brides aboard the vessel and not one, individually ~ it is not June Allen's story specifically, but rather a compilation of women during this time; their trials and separation from what they knew, hopeful to advance to a happier, freer personhood. Can you imagine being cast together, unsure of whom to trust, would they set you aside? "There is always a place somewhere in the world where the sun is shining." --A Bridge Across the Ocean, 208. Traveling from England's shores in the 1940s to the New York harbor, a five-day crossing journey surrounds the ocean liner. Arriving in America, the rescuer of the tired, hungry, longing for a new beginning; the war brides are eager to be reunited with their husbands after a longer separation. Activity on the crossing is brought to the forefront as seventy years later a young wife delves to answer questions for a former classmate, and finds herself seeking answers. ~*~ The author has included habitation by ghosts aboard the RMS Queen Mary throughout the story. About the Author ~ Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Bridge Across the Ocean, Secrets of a Charmed Life, A Fall of Marigolds, and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, among other novels. A Penguin For Every Reader. ***Thank you to Berkley for sending me a copy of this novel. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I won this book as from Goodreads giveaways and I am writing this review because I enjoyed it very much. This is a wonderful story that tells about 3 women who survived WWII and became war brides, except one never got off the Queen Mary when she docked in NY. Each woman came from a different part of Europe and survived some very bad things that happened to them. Then you throw in that the ship has memories and allows Ghost to come and visit and till the they are ready to move on. One young woman has a gift to see them but doesn't deal with it very well but tries to help a high school friend with his daughter and gets into understanding that one of the women listed as dying on the ship really didn't. I loved this story it is well written and give you a insight on what some of the War Brides went through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Present Day Brette Caslake, 34, is attending a friend’s baby shower when she senses a ghost. She has the ability to see ghosts but tries to ignore them. However, the soul is persistent. As she leaves the shower with her mother, she tries to reassure her mother that she does not fear the ghosts. Brett inherited the Sight through her mother although her mother does have have it. Only random female members of the family have inherited the ability through the generations. Brette has told very few people about her ability as she was instructed by her aunt many years ago. Her husband knows about it and tries to understand. He wants them to start a family but Brette is reluctant because she fears they will have a daughter who may be burdened with the Sight. 1940’s - Europe Annaliese is a Belgian girl who grew up loving ballet. Along with her friend, Katrine, they spent many hours at ballet class. When WWII came along, a German Nazi official fell in love with Annaliese's dancing and immediately married her. She feared the man but he acted very smooth with her parents. But life with him was terrible. She was a prisoner in her home. She was not allowed to leave unless it was with him and she learned quickly to never tell him “no” or she would be beaten. All she wanted to do was to escape him. Simone is a French girl who was raped by a member of the Gestapo. She enacted her revenge on him and went on the run. She was friended by some members of Resistance and there she met an injured American also being cared for. After some time together, they fell in love. Phoebe is an young English woman who met and married an American soldier. She has a son and is heading on the ship The Queen Mary to the U.S. to meet her husband. The ship is called the Bride ship as it is filled with brides heading to their new lives in the U.S. Everyone is so thankful that the war is over. Phoebe and Simone are looking forward to seeing their American husbands again. Annaliese, posing as her friend, Katrine, joins them in their room. She tells them she is heading to meet her husband too. What happened to Katrine and why has Annaliese taken her identity? How will Brette come to terms with her ability? Can it help or hinder her? I have tried to give a brief overview of this book without giving away too many details. I found this story to be absolutely fascinating. The author had to have done an enormous amount of research to bring this plot together like she has. One usually thinks of ghosts with fear, but after reading this book, I had a lot of questions answered which takes away any fear of ghosts. I highly recommend this book and hope that readers will delve into this magnificent story. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
SusanKC More than 1 year ago
Susan Meissner produces another great read. She has mastered the art of dual time frames and different point of views. The story alternated between WWII and present day. The stories of the past were told from the point of view of two courageous women, Annaliese Kurtz and Simone Rogers. The present day story is told from the point of view of Brette, a young woman who has struggled with an unusual gift or ability. While seeking to come to terms with this gift, Brette seeks to solve the mystery of the death of one of the war brides that traveled to America on the Queen Mary in 1946. Three women shared a cabin, but one did not leave the ship when it arrived in America. Meissner slowly allows the story of these women to be told, alternating between the past and the present. While the story lines set in the past grabbed my attention immediately, it took awhile for me to warm up to Brette's present-day story. But as all the pieces fall into place at the end, the reader will find that Brette's story is the uniting piece. I found this to be an entertaining story. While reading the last half of the book, I found it very difficult to put down when real life called. I loved the strength found in Meissner's heroines, the rich historical detail of WWII, the story of the War Brides and the story of the ship, the Queen Mary. While I do not usually read books with a supernatural element, I found that the author's use of the supernatural to drive the plot, without overshadowing the story of these heroic women to be masterful. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ruye b