By: Susan Meissner
Published: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Three women are aboard the Queen Mary, heading across the ocean to meet up with their American soldier husbands after WWII. They don't know each other or their stories but are roommates on the five-day voyage to America. As they introduce themselves we are taken back in time to their life before and during WWII in France, Belgium, and Germany. One of them has a secret and once it comes out, their three lives are changed forever.
Meissner is known for combining past stories with the present day in her novels and this one is no exception. Brette is a young, married professional who lives in Southern California. She has always lived a very quiet life because once her high school friends found out she had "The Sight" she was ostracized by them and since then she has tried to keep her ability to see and communicate with ghosts, or drifters, as she calls them, to herself. Now her husband is ready to have children and she isn't sure that she is willing to pass on "The Sight" if they would have a daughter. After a visit onboard the Queen Mary, she is confronted by a drifter and feels the need to find answers for the drifter and maybe those answers will help decide her own future.
I wasn't expecting this book to be about ghosts and was admittedly quite unsure if I was going to like this book at all. But, one of Meissner's previous books, THE FALL OF MARIGOLDS, was a favorite of 2014 so I decided to keep going and I'm glad I did. My favorite parts of the book included the stories of these women during WWII and the extreme heartbreak and danger they went through. One of the women was part of the French Resistance. Another lived a horrific life married to a Nazi soldier. I am still in awe of the people who risked their lives to hide and help those who were traumatized by the Nazi officials. Their stories are inspiring and remind me of the goodness that abounded during WWII even though there was so much evil.
Meissner's novel is very character-driven and you become attached to the three women on the ship as well as Brette during the present day. Her struggle with "The Sight" is one I've never read about before and I have to assume the author met with someone who has that ability for her research. The drifter has her own story to tell and you may be surprised who she is revealed to be.
Fans of historical fiction or dual-time period stories will be swept away by this novel. I learned much about the Queen Mary and her many voyages including those that carried foreign brides across the ocean. It has definitely made me want to visit the Queen Mary myself. In fact, I just heard on the news that they are making Queen Mary Island into a large attraction and event center with shops, restaurants, and other activities.
I would have picked up this book for the cover alone. It is absolutely gorgeous, but the story is just as compelling. Meissner has blended historical fiction with a present-day ghost story and it works.
"They 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.
They can't see the other side.
So they are afraid to cross it."
|Susan Meissner - source|
She attended Point Loma College in San Diego and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small group ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling. For more on Meissner, visit her website, HERE.
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