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A Bridge Across the Ocean


A Bridge Across the Ocean

Brette Caslake has an unusual gift. Or maybe it’s a curse. Since she was a small girl, she has been able to see ghosts. The women in her family (although sometimes the gift skips a generation here and there) have passed this ability down just like blue eyes or blonde hair. Those genetic traits, though, don’t cause the consternation that Brette’s Sight causes.

When she was only six, Brette saw her very first ghost: a boy, sitting on the windowsill in her attic. He was misty and seemed friendly, while young Brette only wanted to know how on earth he had gotten into her house. Fortunately, her aunt Ellen (also Sighted) was there to explain what she was seeing. Since the Sight had skipped a generation and Brette’s mother Nadine didn’t have it, Ellen was able to guide her and her parents in what to expect and how to move forward.

Ellen explained that Brette’s Sight enabled her to see into the thin places. That she would see what Brette would later call “Drifters,” those who hadn’t quite made it “over the bridge.” That they knew where they should go, but like those crossing over a great body of water, they weren’t quite sure what would happen once they got there. So the Drifters just haven’t made the journey; somehow they’ve gotten stuck.

"[Meissner's] heroines often uncover hidden secrets and unusual circumstances, and I’ve always enjoyed the journeys I’ve taken with them.... Reading A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN is quite an extraordinary experience."

Later, Ellen shared further instructions in a letter she sent to Brette, with two very specific warnings. First, in this other world there are three beings: angels, who won’t be seen by Brette; the Drifters; and the Others, who most certainly are not out for anyone’s good and will seek to deceive her or harm her while making her think that they’re Drifters. Second, although Brette might think she can help the Drifters, she cannot. Despite being armed with this advice, Brette has struggled with her Sight. She has made the mistake of telling so-called friends about it, only to be shamed and ridiculed by those with whom she shared her experiences. She has pretended to family members that it had simply gone away, though she still sees Drifters. Finally, she has attempted to ignore it. But then an old school acquaintance calls her and begs for his help with his daughter.

In a past that’s completely unknown to Brette, two women in World War II Europe experience their own challenges. Simone’s father and brother, working in the French Résistance, are discovered and shot by the German Gestapo; soon after that, she is assaulted by another Gestapo agent. However, Simone’s father, fearing just such an occurrence, taught her how to shoot a gun. She escapes, finding shelter in another Résistance member’s wine cellar, only to unexpectedly meet and care for an American airman who has survived a plane crash and a bullet. Simone knows just a little English and is able to translate for the soldier, Everett, who not only is her patient but also becomes her friend.

And in Cologne, a lovely ballerina is selected to perform the lead in “Sleeping Beauty.” Annaliese dances to forget the war, her best friend far away in Belgium, and the simpler and happier childhood times that seem like another world. She attracts the attention of a Nazi official who becomes entranced with her and marries her after a whirlwind courtship. Then, Annaliese discovers that there are more terrible things to face that she never would’ve imagined…and she must search for a way to survive.

Annaliese’s and Simone’s futures are intertwined in ways they cannot dream of as they prepare to head to the United States as war brides to American soldiers. But one of them has a secret that could cost her not only her freedom but her life as they head out on the famous RMS Queen Mary. Years later, Brette is drawn into their story when she attempts to help her old school friend. She sets out to uncover a mystery --- or perhaps a murder? --- that’s 70 years in the past. Who is the Drifter who has been communicating with Brette and so desperately needs her assistance? And what really happened on that ocean voyage?

Susan Meissner is the author of over a dozen books about women both historical and contemporary. Her heroines often uncover hidden secrets and unusual circumstances, and I’ve always enjoyed the journeys I’ve taken with them. This time, her characters might take the most unexpected paths yet, as a woman who can see and interact with ghosts attempts to find a way to make peace with her gifting while making right a terrible wrong from the past. Reading A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN is quite an extraordinary experience.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on March 31, 2017

A Bridge Across the Ocean
by Susan Meissner

  • Publication Date: March 14, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 045147600X
  • ISBN-13: 9780451476005