Beyond That, the Sea

By Laura Spence-Ash
Author: Laura Spence-Ash
ISBN: 9781250854377
ON SALE: 03/21/2023

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ISBN: 9781250854377

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.

Laura Spence-Ash by Beowulf Sheehan
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.

Praise for Laura Spence-Ash

"Mercury, by Amy Jo Burns, is a beautiful, heartfelt novel about the Joseph family of Mercury, Pennsylvania. Burns skillfully employs the omniscient point-of-view as we spend time with multiple characters, exploring what it means to be part of a family, and how the narrative of a family develops and changes over time. We get to know the Josephs intimately—roofer Mick and his wife Elise, and their three sons, Waylon, Baylor, and Shea. But the character who lights up this book is Marley, the woman who will fiercely love the Joseph family and provide a way forward for them all."

Laura Spence-Ash
Author of Beyond That, the Sea

"The plot of Laura Spence-Ash’s Beyond That, the Sea is rooted in the home-front upheavals of World War II, but it’s also a timeless exploration of what it means to create a family, of how dreams can die and be reborn in surprising ways."

The New York Times Book Review

“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

"Debut novelist Laura Spence-Ash’s masterful character development enlivens the story of the Thompson and Gregory families and all of the love and tension between them."


"A young woman’s family loyalties are divided as she leaves her London home for Boston during WWII in Spence-Ash’s magnetic debut...Readers will be riveted."

Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"In this beautiful novel, Laura Spence-Ash renders the last century with painterly precision. Beyond That, the Sea tells the story of a British girl taken in by a prosperous New England family in the Second World War, and of the legacy of the intimate relationships that ensue — a story as rich and vital as life."

Claire Messud
Bestselling author of The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs

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