A pandemic book to read during a pandemic? Sure! Thanks, too, to The Bookish Libra for reminding me of this one.
In 1918 the Bright family moves from the farm into Philadelphia for the father to take over his uncle’s funeral home. The three young daughters and their mother tell the story in alternating chapters. Young love, school friends, the work of the funeral home–all of it comes to a stop when the Spanish Influenza hits the city. It is hard to write more specifics about the story without giving spoilers. When daughter Maggie finds a baby a house with his dead mother, she takes the little boy home, conveniently hiding the fact that his sister was still alive.
Through much of the next decade, we see the girls grow up and change and put the Influenza behind them as best they can. Until….[No Spoilers]
This was a good story–it started out strong with the move to Philadelphia and the [no spoilers] events of the Influenza and the end of World War I. I didn’t want to put it down. But, just like with her book The Last Year of the War, the second half was just not as good. The story just seemed to become silly–embarrassingly silly. I felt, not for the first time recently, that a stronger editor could have helped. Susan Meissner is a best-selling author, I’m not sure if any editor today can risk standing up to someone who sells that many books, but they should. The ending seemed “phoned in” without too much thought. I felt the characters deserved a better ending than they were given. I can’t have been the only one who muttered “Oh, brother!” on occasion. Meissner is a better writer than this and should up her game and get over this problem.