Set between two eras – the present and World War II – this is the story of three European war brides who come to America on the RMS Queen Mary and of the modern-day woman who reconnects them.
Annaliese Lange is a German girl living near the Belgian border. She loves to dance and becomes a ballerina. It is her dancing the lead role in Sleeping Beauty that draws the attention of Rolf Kurtz, an up and coming member of the Nazi party. He decides to make Annaliese his wife – neither she nor her parents have any say in the matter. Once married, Annaliese realizes just how controlling and abusive her husband can be. She vows to get away from him and plans her escape, determined to get as far away from him as possible in the shortest amount of time. She eventually makes her way to Belgium and to her best friend Katrine with whom she will plan her next move.
Simone Devereux lives with her father and brother in France. She goes about her daily routine not paying much attention to her father’s shoe business located below their apartment. Until the day she bears witness to the cold blooded murder of her brother and father does she realize the danger they were all in my being part of the French Resistance. Simone flees with only the clothes on her back and makes her way across town but is followed by a German officer who corners her in an old building where she is raped. Allowing her anger at the Germans to take control she gets hold of the officer’s gun and shoots him. Her father’s contact helps her get out of town and Simone remains hidden for the next several months in a vineyard wine cellar where she meets the American soldier she will marry.
Fast forward to the end of the war. Both Annaliese (pretending to be her friend Katrine) and Simone find themselves on the RMS Queen Mary as war brides going to America to be with their soldier husbands. There they meet Phoebe Rogers, a British lass with a young babe going to rejoin her husband as well. The three young women find themselves sharing a cabin during the crossing. But secrets don’t always remain secrets as these three soon learn. They will confide in each other and share their experiences, some more readily than others.
Brette Caslake lives in California and is one of a long line of women in her family who has The Sight – the ability to see and contact those who have passed but remain on this plane for some reason. Through her help of a friend she boards the Queen Mary – now a floating hotel that is said to be haunted – but instead of finding the spirit or Drifter she is searching for she becomes connected with another spirit who she cannot see but most certainly can feel. Brette believes the spirit belongs to Annaliese Kurtz who is said to have jumped overboard rather than be sent back to her evil husband. But is the spirit that of Annaliese? Or is it someone else who is in need of assistance? The answer will surprise you. And will Brette discover the answer to her question about having a child of her own?
A Bridge Across The Ocean took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t prepared for the depths of emotion exhibited by the characters. The details of life during World War II; the details of the Queen Mary and life aboard her for the war brides; and the emotional roller-coaster of the stories as they became an interwoven tapestry of history were all compelling. If you are a fan of World War II stories then don’t miss this one. Also recommended for those who enjoy the occult or paranormal stories.
Rating: 5 stars