Coast-to-Coast: Indie Booksellers Adore Beyond That, the Sea!

Laura Spence-Ash’s sweeping historical novel Beyond That, the Sea has captivated the hearts of countless readers, including independent booksellers across the country. In fact, booksellers voted this heartwarming novel as an "Indie Next" pick — one of their favorite books of April.

For the last several weeks, readers have been spotting Beyond That, the Sea on “staff pick” shelves from coast to coast, so we rounded up some of the best photos and quotes about this “gripping,” “poignant,” and “beautiful” coming-of-age story of loss and love.

Where have you spotted Beyond That, the Sea?


Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, NC)

"A gripping historical fiction novel about the Thompson family, who make the difficult decision to send their child away from London during WWII, then about the Gregorys, the American family who provide Bea not only safety and security but love and support during her teenage years. Spence-Ash beautifully crafted a heartwarming story of time and place, concern and gratitude, and family and love." —Beth

Bookmarks, 634 W 4th St #110, Winston-Salem, NC 27101; (336) 747-1471; bookmarksnc.org

The Bookshelf (Cincinnati, OH)

"A beautiful book filled with gorgeous prose and delicate hope about families and relationships. Perfect for those who love historical fiction and literary fiction." —Cara

The Bookshelf, 7754 Camargo Rd Cincinnati, OH 45243; (513) 271-9140; cincybookshelf.indielite.org

Bookshop of Beverly Farms (Beverly Farms, MA)

"The characters in this novel experience love and loss, are beset by obligation, but move from being pawns in the game to finally, eventually, orchestrating their own moves in a wholly satisfying fashion. It will make your heart ache just the right amount." —Hannah

The Book Shop of Beverly Farms 40 West St. Beverly MA USA, 01915; 978-927-2122; bookshopofbeverlyfarms.com

Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

"When World War II breaks out in England, a family sends their daughter to a family in Maine in order to protect and provide for her. Beyond That, the Sea, told in eight different voices from both families over the years of the war and beyond, chronicles the emotions of belonging and displacement, of growth and identify forged from the myriad of people who are involved in helping a child in their journey to become an adult. A tenderhearted, emotional coming-of-age novel in extraordinary circumstances." —Casey

Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA. 95060; 831-423-0900; bookshopsantacruz.com

The Bookworm of Edwards (Edwards, CO)

"A poignant and wonderful debut. When Bea is sent to America to escape the Blitz in London, her life becomes divided between families. The tale is told through the lens of all family members, and I found myself totally immersed in this lovely, transporting story. I can't wait for you to read this." —Karin

Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St, Edwards, CO 81632; 970-926-7323; www.bookwormofedwards.com

Buttonwood Books and Toys (Cohasset, MA)

"This World War II historical novel captures the feelings of a lonely adolescent living with an unknown family on another continent. You will connect with the scenes of Boston and Maine —as well as the host family. The author is a Milton Academy grad, so the school may seem familiar."

Buttonwood Books and Toys, 747 Chief Justice Cushing Hwy, Cohasset, MA 02025; (781) 383-2665; buttonwoodbooksandtoys.com

Copper Dog Books (Beverly, MA)

"A lyrical, moving, and complex tale of family, love, and loss. Beyond That, the Sea stands out from other WWII novels and is the perfect book club pick for historical fiction fans!" —Alyssa

Copper Dog Books, 272 Cabot St, Beverly, MA 01915; (978) 969-3460, www.copperdogbooks.com

The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)

"Beatrix is sent to America to keep her safe during WWII and is taken in by the Gregorys from Boston who have two sons. They also have a home on an island off the coast of Maine where they spend their summers, and life is idyllic for them. But Bea must eventually go home to London to a life completely unlike what she had in America. But what a profound effect she had on the Gregorys, and they on her. And what a beautiful story of how love connects us to one another." —Beth

The Country Bookshop, 140 NW Broad Street Southern Pines, NC 28387; (910) 692-3211; www.thecountrybookshop.biz

The Dog Eared Book (Palmyra, NY)

"This deceptively quiet book will grab your heart and not let go.  Beatrix is sent to the US for safety during WWII and finds so much love in her new family. Beyond That, The Sea follows Bea and both of her families from the '40s through the '70s through change and heartache.  This is one of those marvelous stories where I started to read slowly at the end because I just wasn't ready to let the characters go." —Carrie

The Dog Eared Book, 450 E Main St. Palmyra, NY 14522; (315) 502-0181; shop.thedogearedbook.com

Excelsior Bay Books (Excelsior, MN)

"A beautifully crafted, very readable story of a young girl sent by her parents to live with an American family as bombs fall on London in WWII. It’s so easy to fall in love with her new, affluent family — especially the oldest of their two sons.  And they all fall in love with Bea, too. In five years, she feels more attached to them than to her own family back in England. Over the next 20 years, they stretch but never break the ties between them.  With equal measures of grace and heartache,  they build lives out of who they were and who they have become, each surprised by the dance of destiny. A terrific debut. Lots for book clubs to discuss."

Excelsior Bay Books, 36 Water Street Excelsior, MN 55331; (952) 401-0932; excelsiorbaybooks.indielite.org

Mrs. Dalloway’s (Berkeley, CA)

"Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash. This is a gorgeous, stunning debut set between 1940 and 1965 about a young girl whose parents decide to send her to live with a family in Boston to avoid the perils of war in her home city of London. Short, beautifully written chapters follow the different characters through time as we learn of their lives, loves and sorrows and how they are all impacted for decades by a seemingly benign decision. I was utterly captivated and at times a tearful mess; this story and these characters will be with me for years to come." —Carolyn

Mrs. Dalloway's, 2904 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705; (510) 704-8222; mrsdalloways.com

Mystery to Me (Madison, WI)

"Beyond That, the Sea is so beautifully written that the reader feels like they are falling into the story. I'm not normally a reader of family sagas. . . . Oh, but this one stole my heart." —Jayne

Mystery to Me, 1863 Monroe Street, Madison, Wisconsin; 608-283-9332; mysterytomebooks.com

The Novel Neighbor (St Louis, MO)

"Beyond That, the Sea is a reflection on the people and places that shape us. Laura Spence-Ash somehow makes an entire cast of characters come alive over decades. Beatrix is just a young girl when her parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her to America to escape the dangerous bombings in London. Her time with the Gregory family will change the hearts of both families. You might think you don't need another WWII book, but trust me, you do!" —Kelli

The Novel Neighbor, 7905 Big Bend Blvd St. Louis MO USA, 63119; 314-738-9384; thenovelneighbor.com

Page and Palette (Fairhope, AL)

"Beatrix as a young child was sent to a family in America while her country, England, was experiencing attacks from the Germans. Reading about what her life was like and what it became when she returned home to England offers a fresh perspective of WWII. I was totally entertained and loved the story. Very satisfying!"

Page and Palette, 32 South Section St. Fairhope, AL 36532; (251) 928-5295; pageandpalette.com

Once Upon a Time (Montrose, CA)

"Such a beautifully written love story for the ages — heartfelt, sorrowful, but rendered with such graceful prose. Very highly recommended for those wanting a different take on WWII. Exquisite!" —Maureen

Once Upon a Time, 2207 Honolulu Ave, Montrose, CA 91020; (818) 248-9668; shoponceuponatime.com

Theodore’s Books (Oyster Bay, NY)

"Beyond That, the Sea: This beautiful debut novel follows a young English girl whose life is forever changed when she is sent to live with an American family during WWII. Outstanding historical fiction with compelling and thoughtful characters. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT." —Becky

Theodore’s Books, 17 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay, NY, 11771; (516) 636-5550; theodoresbooks.com

Roundabout Books (Bend, OR)

"Beyond That, the Sea is a mesmerizing story of love, sacrifice, family, and place. A couple is forced to make the excruciating decision to send their only daughter, Bea, to the United States when WWII descends on Europe, and she develops complex and changing relationships with both families across the sea. It's an incredible sweeping historical saga about how love and home shape us and change us. This book is a beautiful debut and the perfect reason to pick up another WW2 novel." —Cassie

Roundabout Books 900 NW Mt. Washington Dr. Suite #110 Bend, OR 97703; 541-306-6564; roundaboutbookshop.com

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