Title: Beyond That, the Sea
Author: Laura Spence-Ash
Narrator: Ell Potter
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: March 21, 2023
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.
Beyond sad but uplifting at the end!
The novel tells the story of Beatrix "Bea" Thompson. Is 1940 and World War II is raging. London is getting bombed regularly and her parents, Millie and Reggie decided to send her to America to live with a family in Boston.
Millie doesn't want to send her but Reginald insists. He wants her daughter to be safe.
When Bea arrives in Boston, the Gregorys are there to pick her up. She meets Mr. and Mrs. G and their sons, William and Gerald.
William behaves like a regular teenager, angry at times, thinking about enlisting when he is of age, and desperate to leave the house and travel all over.
Gerald is the youngest son. He is big-hearted and sweet. Even though both sons are so different, they both clicked with Bea, becoming one of them pretty quickly.
Bea who starts as scared and angry towards her mother-teenager, blossoms into a wonderful young woman. She falls for William but when the war is over, she must return to London. Readjusting her life is not easy but she knows she has to continue her life although the Gregorys are never far from her mind.
Heartbreak, death, divorce, and sorrow plague these two families and when it felt that there was no hope, a sliver will show up.
Ell Potter, the narrator, helps bring Bea, Mrs. G and Millie alive. I thought she did a great job narrating them.
A complimentary copy was provided by Macmillan Audio via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.