A simple answer to a simple question. That's all Werner Schramm required.
–Mary Doria Russell - A thread of grace - pg 9
This book I loved. Loved.
But I should have guessed, I’ve loved most of Russell’s books. I wasn’t hugely fond of part of Children of God, as I recall, but I still intend to reread it at some point. She just writes such wonderful characters. And then puts them in such interesting plots. And then asks so many questions of the reader.
In this case the setting is Italy at the end of World War II, a setting I’d never really thought about before. I mean once Italy surrenders the history books just sort of move on to dealing with the rest of the war, or at least the overview ones I’ve read. This is the story of Jews escaping into Italy, of the Italians that hid them, and those who fought back. But we also have a Nazi doctor looking for some sort of forgiveness.
” There’s a saying in Hebrew,” he tells her, ” ‘No matter how dark the tapestry God weaves for us, there’s always a thread of grace.’ After the Yom Kippur roundup in ’43, people all over Italy helped us. Almost fifty thousand Jews were hidden. Italians, foreigners. And so many of them survived the occupation. I keep asking myself, Why was it so different here? Why did Italians help when so many others turned away?”
What I really enjoyed were the characters; they were just so well drawn and believable. You mourn each one that dies. And die they do, in an interview Russell says that she didn’t decide who would die, a coin toss did, to bring in an element of randomness. And it works. Almost too well.
The writing is perfect. Simple and easy to read, but it never shies away from the big issues, and as with the likes of The Sparrow its a book that makes you think.
I nabbed this one from work but I’ll be wanting to reread so must buy myself a copy at some stage. And I can’t wait for her fifth novel, Eight to Five, Against which is about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.
Other reviews: Illiterary ;