Monday, October 28, 2013

"WOW! I have never been more off base about an author and her writing than I was in this case." ~ Miki

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of forty-three thousand Jews during the war’s final phase. The result of five years of meticulous research, A Thread of Grace is an ambitious, engrossing novel of ideas, history, and marvelous characters that will please Russell’s many fans and earn her even more.
Miki says:
"With the fame of her book, The Sparrow, I always considered Mary Doria Russell to be a sci-fi author. When I picked up A Thread of Grace, I was a little put off because I really wanted a book set in the part of Italy where I was headed for vacation. What I didn’t want was a spiritual science fiction novel that would mess with my mind. But I read the back cover and decided to give her writing a chance. WOW! I have never been more off base about an author and her writing than I was in this case. 

A Thread of Grace is the story of a community hiding in the beautiful Italian Alps during one of the most frightening times in Europe. This community is a small village of Catholics and Jews. At the beginning of the book, the villagers are given the false sense of relief that the war is ending. Unfortunately, they were misinformed. Shortly after, in a desperate attempt to complete their task, the Nazi party completely changes the lives of this community.

This book tells the stories of Catholics, Jews, a Nazi doctor, children, widows, lovers, and lone wolves. Somehow, Russell skillfully sews all of their stories together and tells an beautiful story of a very ugly time.

Normally, when a book starts with a list of characters, I dread reading it because I know it will be difficult to keep track of who's who. However, in A Thread of Grace, it is so easy to fall into the story and follow the trails of all of the different characters.

This is a book in which I had trouble identifying with just one character. Usually, I pinpoint a character with whom I really feel a connection. In A Thread of Grace, I felt close to all of them. Russell made every character honest and vulnerable, and it was impossible to let them go at the turn of the last page.

This was an excellent novel."

No comments: