I’ve hosted a monthly Book Club for over 21 years in my home—one of the richest experiences in my life. It’s a vibrant group of 14 women whose ages range from the 30’s to the 80’s. Here you will find reviews on some of the standout books we’ve discussed. We read widely, so you’ll see all genres here. Check out my complete list at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/727065
A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell
I was drawn to reread this book while doing research for my latest project, which is set in wartime Italy. This extraordinary historical novel is the kind of book that I found myself thinking about long after finishing the last page. It is the little-known story of a group of Italian citizens that sheltered more than 40,000 Jews from the horrors of the work camps and executions during the Italian resistance to the Germans in the last two years of WWII.
Three cultures mingle uneasily in Porto Sant' Andrea on the Ligurian coast of northwest Italy—the Italian Jews of the village, the Italian Catholics, and the occupying Germans invited by Mussolini. While there are several narrative threads, the book moves swiftly, and we come to know a cast of vibrant characters from the three cultures, set against meticulously researched historical detail. The intensity and intimacy of Russell's storytelling, her sharp character writing and fierce sense of humor bring fresh immediacy to this riveting wartime saga.
The book is extraordinary in that, unlike other dark novels about this era that leave one with a hopelessness, it reminds us that even in the worst of times, there are good people who willingly sacrifice themselves when they see the suffering around them. We witness with the characters both the heartbreaking journey they will make in their struggle for survival, and the grace extended to them by the Italian people, which crosses the boundaries of faith and ethnicity. An incredibly compelling read. I highly recommend it.