Beyond That the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash

Read Time:3 Minute, 15 Second

In Beyond That the Sea, Bea is sent from war-torn London to live with the Gregorys in Boston. As she adjusts to her new life, she grows close to the family and the new experiences. However, the end of the war forces her to leave the family and return to London, where memories of her American family stay with her and shape her life.

Book review of Beyond That the Sea

Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash is a captivating debut novel that offers a fresh perspective on World War II. The story follows Beatrix Thompson, an eleven-year-old English child who is sent to America by her frightened parents during the London Blitz to keep her safe. Beatrix is welcomed into the Gregory family, where she grows up as a member of their family, and the novel follows her transformation from a shy and homesick child to a self-assured young woman torn between two homes.

What sets this novel apart from other World War II novels is Spence-Ash’s use of a polyphonic format, allowing the chapters to move back and forth between the perspectives of Beatrix’s parents back in war-torn London and each of the Gregorys towards their new charge. Each character is well-developed, and the reader becomes emotionally invested in their journey. The latter half of the book moves on to the post-war years, which are equally well depicted and engrossing.

Spence-Ash’s writing is beautiful and evocative, drawing the reader into the story and making them feel a part of Beatrix’s journey. The emotional connections between the characters are powerful and realistic, and the little details Spence-Ash weaves into the story help ground those connections in the people of the story. The disconnection between the two families, where Beatrix is the only thing they have in common, is particularly well-done, and the reader can sense that Bea’s true chance for happiness is dependent on whether these two very separate families can become one.

While some readers may find the format of the novel confusing or overwhelming, the different perspectives offer a unique insight into the effects of war on families and individuals. The gaps in the timeline and character development that some readers may find frustrating are, in fact, a deliberate choice by Spence-Ash to allow the reader to fill in the gaps with their own imagination and create a more personal connection with the story.

Final verdict

Overall, Beyond That the Sea is a beautifully written and emotional novel that offers a fresh perspective on World War II. Spence-Ash is a talented writer to watch, and I look forward to seeing what she does next. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new take on the genre.

Our Score


  • Captivating storytelling: Laura Spence-Ash’s writing style is captivating, and the story keeps the reader engaged throughout.
  • Multidimensional characters: The polyphonic format allows for the development of multiple characters, each with their own unique perspective and backstory.
  • Unique perspective on WWII: While there are many WWII novels, “Beyond That, the Sea” offers a unique perspective on the war and its impact on children.


  • Gaps in timeline and character development: The book suffers from gaps in the timeline and character development, which can make it difficult for the reader to fully engage with the story.
  • Slow pacing: Some readers may find the pacing of the book slow, particularly in the post-war years.
  • Familiar genre: While the book offers a unique perspective on WWII, it still falls within the familiar genre of parallel timelines with a contemporary character investigating the past through its pages, which may not appeal to all readers.
Beyond That, the SeaPublisher ‏ : ‎ Celadon Books (March 21, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250854377
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250854377
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.22 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.55 inches

About Article Author

Ethan Davis

Ethan Davis combines his passion for literature with another of his great hobbies: climbing. There is never a mountain high enough for him... nor a book he doesn't want to read, especially if it's a good crime thriller.
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