#BookReview Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash @LauraSpenceAsh @CeladonBooks #LauraSpenceAsh #BeyondThatTheSea #CeladonBooks #CeladonReads #partner Title: Beyond That, the Sea

Author: Laura Spence-Ash

Published by: Celadon Books on Mar. 21, 2023

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Celadon Books

Book Rating: 10/10

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.


Captivating, absorbing, and beautifully written!

Beyond That, the Sea is an emotionally-charged, moving tale that takes you into the lives of two families, Thompson and Gregory, as their worlds intertwine and collide after eleven-year-old Beatrix Thompson is sent to Boston to live with the Gregorys for the duration of the war causing unlikely friendships to be forged, loyalties to be stretched, heartache to be inevitable, and the meaning of home to be irrevocably changed forever.

The prose is vivid and expressive. The characters are multi-layered, vulnerable, and torn. And the plot is a moving, coming-of-age tale about life, loss, friendship, heartbreak, guilt, grief, courage, hope, war, romance, regret, first love, and complex familial relationships.

Overall, Beyond That, the Sea is the perfect blend of historical facts, evocative fiction, and palpable emotion. It’s a bittersweet, affecting, tender tale that made me smile, make me cry, and resonated with me long after I finished the final page.

This novel is available March 21, 2023.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.




Thank you to Celadon Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Laura Spence-Ash

Laura Spence-Ash’s fiction has appeared in One Story, New England Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. Her critical essays and book reviews appear regularly in the Ploughshares blog. She received her MFA in fiction from Rutgers–Newark, and she lives in New Jersey.

Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

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