Title: A Bridge Across the Ocean
Author: Susan Meissner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating (out of 5): ***
This is one of those books where I have a hard time deciding whether to rate it based off the skill of the writing or how much I enjoyed it. I’ve decided to go with “how much I would recommend it,” which unfortunately is not very much.
To begin with, the premise—that there are souls who don’t cross into heaven but stay in “thin places” between this world and the next—is unbiblical, as “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The modern-day character in the book has “the sight” which allows her to see these “drifters.” Meissner is a Christian, and her defense of why she wrote a ghost story is a pretty flimsy: “Jesus didn’t say there are no ghosts, and we don’t know everything, so why not.” (Reference: http://susanlmeissner.com/why-i-wrote-a-ghost-story/) I can almost accept it as merely a literary device, but I don’t think it was necessary enough to the story to give her a pass for something unbiblical and potentially dangerous. The weirdest ghost moment was when a ghost says they come closest to living people when they are praying. What a creepy thought.
While the ghost chasing in the modern day story disappointed me, the historical narratives in the book are excellently done. The main characters are the daughter of a member of the French Resistance who is fleeing the Gestapo, and a woman fleeing a marriage to an abusive Nazi husband. The mystery kept me guessing to the end, and I truly cared and ached for both women.
Content wise, there are several scenes of rape, murder, and abuse. I felt like they were there to illustrate realities of this time period, not for shock value, but they were still hard to read.
Meissner is such a talented writer—great character development, setting, and plot, so I’m sad that this novel left me feeling let down and disappointed in the plot device she chose to use. It’s not one I would say DON’T read, but not one I’d particularly recommend, either.
One other note: I listened to the audio book read by Kim Bubbs, who was fantastic. She had to do accents from several different countries, as well as characters when they were both young and elderly, and she nailed it. Her only weak spot was the American men (who all seem to have weird drawls), but otherwise a fantastic narrator.