Beyond That, the Sea

Posted March 24, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 4 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Beyond That, the SeaBeyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash
Narrator: Ell Potter
Published by Celadon Books, Macmillan Audio on March 21, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Women
Length: 12 hours 17 minutes
Pages: 368
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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“Spence-Ash has written the novel in eight points of view, but each character is utterly three-dimensional and distinct. This debut novel captivated me from start to finish."
—Julia Quinn, author of the Bridgerton Series

A sweeping, tenderhearted love story, Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash tells the story of two families living through World War II on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and the shy, irresistible young woman who will call them both her own.

As German bombs fall over London in 1940, working-class parents Millie and Reginald Thompson make an impossible choice: they decide to send their eleven-year-old daughter, Beatrix, to America. There, she’ll live with another family for the duration of the war, where they hope she’ll stay safe.

Scared and angry, feeling lonely and displaced, Bea arrives in Boston to meet the Gregorys. Mr. and Mrs. G, and their sons William and Gerald, fold Bea seamlessly into their world. She becomes part of this lively family, learning their ways and their stories, adjusting to their affluent lifestyle. Bea grows close to both boys, one older and one younger, and fills in the gap between them. Before long, before she even realizes it, life with the Gregorys feels more natural to her than the quiet, spare life with her own parents back in England.

As Bea comes into herself and relaxes into her new life—summers on the coast in Maine, new friends clamoring to hear about life across the sea—the girl she had been begins to fade away, until, abruptly, she is called home to London when the war ends.

Desperate as she is not to leave this life behind, Bea dutifully retraces her trip across the Atlantic back to her new, old world. As she returns to post-war London, the memory of her American family stays with her, never fully letting her go, and always pulling on her heart as she tries to move on and pursue love and a life of her own.

As we follow Bea over time, navigating between her two worlds, Beyond That, the Sea emerges as a beautifully written, absorbing novel, full of grace and heartache, forgiveness and understanding, loss and love.

I thought that this was really good! It didn’t take long before I was entirely captivated by this character-driven story. Bea’s parents in London send Bea to live with a family in the United States to keep her safe during World War II. Bea’s life with the Gregory family is good, and she soon fits in as if she has always been a part of the family. We follow Bea and her London family and the Gregory family over a large span of years and I really wanted to see good things happen to each and every one of them.

This is really a story of relationships. Bea’s relationship with the other children in the Gregory family, Michael, and Gerald, will play a huge role in her life. Nancy, her American mother, was there during most of Bea’s formative years and they remain close even though they don’t see each other once Bea returns to London. Both of Bea’s families have had hardships to deal with over the years and my heart hurt for them over some of the things they faced.

I thought that Ell Potter did a great job with the narration. This story had quite a few characters spread out over a long period of time and thought that she did a fantastic job of bringing the whole cast to life. I found her voice to be very pleasant and I had no problems listening to her for hours. I do believe that her narration added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of character-driven stories. The characters in this book were easy to like and incredibly well done. There were a few surprises worked into the story which kept me glued to my headphones. I hope to read more of this author’s work in the near future.

I received a review copy of this book from Celadon Books and Macmillan Audio.

4 responses to “Beyond That, the Sea

  1. This sounds really wonderful. The saga elements remind me of one of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books and I’ve always loved her books. I’ll have to add this to my TBR.