Stephany fisher's Reviews > A Thread of Grace

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
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's review
Jul 03, 07

Recommended for: historical fiction lovers
Read in April, 2006

Thread of Grace concerns itself with Northern Italian Peasants who help Jewish refugees hide from the Germans in Northern Italy during the latter part of World War II. Like The Sparrow by Russell, it is filled with rich writing, moments of humor, highly developed characters, and technical prowess regarding the subject matter. It is also, like The Sparrow, very sad. One person I was sitting next to at a pool made sure I knew how much she hated this book when she saw I was reading it. The book is complex, technical, and realistically sad. It is not a traditional form of escape, and it is not light reading.
For those, however, who enjoy to absorb themselves in human experience during an intensely volatile and tragic time in history, this book is profound. Russell is a master at drawing her characters so real you can almost touch and smell them. She weaves brilliant observation on human nature and the dynamics of complex relationships into a tale that makes us explore moral questions to an unfamiliar and sometimes painful depth. I feel personal satisfaction after reading a book that helps me work out some of my own issues, confront some of my own fears, and redraw some of my own perspectives. That's when I say a book is "life changing" for me. Thread of Grace is such a book. It made me think harder, dig deeper, and muster more forgiveness than I have in a long time.

Like life, this book is dirty and messy. It is not for the feint of heart. The war scenes are vivid and accessible; the war strategies employed are intriguing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, and to those who like brilliant ,beautiful writing with ethical probing to back it up.


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Monalesia I agree that this book was complex, poignant, sad, and even uplifting at points. Russell is a writer of the first order; her prose spare, but also rich in imagery and texture. I didn't think I would like this book, mostly because I'd read The Sparrow and Children of God and didn't think she could ever top those, but she's done a great job with this book. I certainly learned a great deal.

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