A Thread of Grace

I am beginning to feel marginally better: each day, at least, I have more energy and coherency than the one before. I have been lucky that the past three days spent in bed I have had A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell to occupy me.

threadofgraceA Thread of Grace chronicles the Italian Resistance and astounding feats of courage and hospitality of Italians hiding Jewish refugees during the latter years of WWII. You never hear about the Italian theater of WWII, which is in part why I found this novel so fascinating. In the Author’s Note, Russell explains some of the research and inspiration involved in this novel, and she says: “It will be eerie, I suspect, for these people to recognize elements of their own experiences mixed with the memories of others, filtered through a novelist’s imagination, and assigned to a character of a different age or gender. What I have written is not real, but I hope they will find it to be true.”

Words cannot express my praise (and sorrow) for The Sparrow, and I admire her skill to succeed in a completely different genre for A Thread of Grace. A Thread of Grace is a macrocosm compared to The Sparrow, with so many characters, and yet not one of them is flat. You will love and hate Mary Doria Russell, because she will make you laugh and cry, make you love God and doubt him; in the midst of terror, she will make you believe that:

No matter how dark the tapestry God weaves for us, there’s always a thread of grace.

If I can evoke but only a tenth of the pathos she achieves in my own writing, I will have succeeded indeed.

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