Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, Russell's ambitious and engrossing novel tells the little known story of how Italian citizens saved more than 43,000 Jews during the last 20 months of WWII.
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.
Anno Fascista XXII
8 September 1943
Porto Sant'Andrea, Liguria
Northwestern Coast of Italy
A simple answer to a simple question. That's all Werner Schramm requires.
"Where's the church?" he yells, belligerent and sicksicker yet when his shout becomes a swampy cough.
A small crowd gathers to appreciate the spectacle: a Waffen-SS officer, thin, fortyish, and liquored up. He props his hands against his knees, coughing harder. "La basilica!" he gasps, remembering the Italian. "San Giovannidove è?"
A young woman points. He catches the word campanile, and straightens, careful of his chest. Spotting the bell tower above a tumble of rooftops that stagger toward the sea, he turns to thank her. Everyone is gone.
No matter. Downhill is the path of least resistance for a man who's drunk himself legless. Nearer the harbor, the honeyed light of the Italian Riviera ...
Russell introduces us to an expansive and richly drawn cast of characters in a book that is both epic and brilliant.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (294 words).
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 ...
If you liked A Thread of Grace, try these:
"A masterpiece" (A.N. Wilson), this many-layered novel of WWII combines fiction with a Sebaldian collage of facts to explore the fate of Italian Jews under Nazi occupation, through the intimate story of a mother's search for her son
The gripping story of Pope Pius XI's secret relations with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. This groundbreaking work will forever change our understanding of the Vatican's role in the rise of Fascism in Europe.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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