Set in Italy
during the dramatic finale of World War II, this new novel is the first in
seven years by the bestselling author of The Sparrow and Children of
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.
In 1943, teenaged Claudette Blum scales the Alps with her father, hoping to
find sanctuary in Italy. It took the author of the highly regarded The Sparrow
five years to research this book, which highlights the network of Italians who
saved 43,000 Jewish lives during World War II.
Italian citizens saved more than 43,000 Jews during the last 20 months of
World War II. Russell has transmuted this little-known history into an
expansive, well-researched, and compelling novel.
Starred Review. Stateless Jews find refuge in the valleys of northwest Italy, thanks to the
humanity of supposedly thick-witted peasants a rich, rewarding, and
well-researched tale of WWII..... Beautiful, noble, fascinating, and
almost unbearably sad.
Starred Review. Busy, noisy and heartfelt, this sprawling novel by Russell-a striking
departure from her previous two acclaimed SF thrillers...The intensity and intimacy of Russell's
storytelling, her sharp character writing and fierce sense of humor bring
fresh immediacy to this riveting WWII saga. This is a worthy successor to high-caliber, crowd-pleasing WWII
novels like Corelli's Mandolin or The English Patient.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
Mary Doria Russell's fans (and aren't we all?) will rejoice to see
her new novel on the shelves. A Thread of Grace is as ambitious, beautiful,
tense, and transforming as any of us could have hoped.
David Morrell, author of The Brotherhood of the Rose and First Blood
Fans of Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God will be
thrilled by her masterful new novel. A Thread of Grace is a rich,
multi-layered narrative that offers fresh insight into a devastating time in
world affairs. A story of love and war, it speaks to the resilience and beauty
of the human spirit in the midst of unimaginable horror. It is,
unquestionably, a literary triumph.
Susan Cahill, author/editor of Desiring Italy and The Smiles of Rome
Essential reading for people who love Italy. You will lose yourself
completely in this ecumenical epic of Italians working together to save Jewish
refugees during the German Occupation of 1943-1944. Russell has a deep empathy
for her characters and writes with genius about the horrors of guerrilla war.
This wholly absorbing historical novel ends with perhaps the most moving coda
in fictional history.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kim Top of my list! I approached this novel with a bit of apprehension, since Mary Doria Russell's previous books are among my favorites, and I knew this one was a huge departure from both The Sparrow and Children of God. Well, A Thread of Grace not only measures... Read More
Rated of 5
by Erica A Thread of Grace I read about a book or more a week and have a 50 page rule - 100 pages, if I think there might be a chance for redemption. I therefore don't read much of what I don't like. But it is rare for me to find a book that I love. For me, a book I love,... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jan Stephens
About once a year I read a book that touches my heart and soul with captivating characters, a compelling plot and worthy dialogue; this is my pick of the year!! Mary Doria Russell's newest historical fiction details how a network of citizens... Read More
Mary Russell Doria says,
'the highest Jewish survival rate in Nazi-occupied
Europe was in Italy! We've spent 60 years trying
to understand what went wrong during the
Holocaust. I wanted to know what went right in
For skeptics who believe that she might have
idealized the courage and generosity of ordinary
Italians during the 1940s, Russell closes her
author's note with the following inscription
chiseled on the marble memorial stela in Borgo San
Dalmazzo by the Jews of Saint-Martin-Vesubie in
honor of the people of Valle Stura and Valle
A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds; an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly...
"You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence." An amazing, courageous, uplifting autobiography about a brave teenager who was not afraid to get involved.
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