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A thread of grace : a novel
2005
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Lidia Leoni (Female), Italian, Jewish, Aristocrat, Communist, Mastermind behind the Italo-Jewish effort to protect Jewish refugees
Albert Blum (Male), French, Jewish, Father, Refugee, Claudette's Father
Claudette Blum (Female), French, Jewish, Refugee, Albert's daughter
Genre
Fiction
Historical
War
Topics
World War II
Jewish Holocaust
Holocaust survivors
Refugees
Journeys
Rescue missions
Setting
Italy - Europe
Time Period
1943 -- 20th century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

In her two highly acclaimed novels, The Sparrow and Children of God, Russell cast her characters in futuristic settings where they debated the nature of sin and grace. Russell's latest effort looks back to September 1943, when Italy had broken its alliance with Germany and joined in a separate peace with the Allies. Albert Blum and 14-year-old daughter Claudette, Jewish refugees in southern France, must leave that region (which Italy had occupied) and cross the Alps to Italy to flee German persecution. While they encounter all the typical dangers of such a journey, they are not much inspired by their arrival in Italy, where pockets of Nazis continue to persecute Jews. A "thread of grace" runs through this disorder, however, in the forms of Italian Catholic resisters, an Italian rabbi, and a disaffected German doctor who provide safe harbor for the Blum family and other Jews. The surfeit of characters devolves into one-dimensional portraits of individuals for whom we can hardly muster any sympathy or identification; despite Russell's consummate storytelling ability, the multitudinous plot lines diverge rather than converge. Even so, fans of her previous novels will devour this book, and most libraries will want a copy. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/04.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Busy, noisy and heartfelt, this sprawling novel by Russell-a striking departure from her previous two acclaimed SF thrillers, The Sparrow and Children of God-chronicles the Italian resistance to the Germans during 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, headed by the chief rabbi Iacopo Soncini; the Italian Catholics, like Sant'Andrea's priest Don Osvaldo Tomitz, who befriend and shelter the Jews; and the occupying Germans invited by Mussolini's crumbling regime. In the last camp is the drunken, tubercular Nazi deserter, Doktor Schramm, a broken man who confesses to Don Osvaldo that while working in state hospitals and Auschwitz, he was responsible for murdering 91,867 people. Meanwhile, Jewish refugees in southern France, including Albert Blum and his teenage daughter, Claudette, are fleeing across the Alps to Italy, hoping to find sanctuary there. Russell pursues numerous narrative threads, including the Blums' perilous flight over the mountains; Italian Jew Renzo Leoni's personal coming to terms with his participation in the Dolo hospital bombing during the Abyssinian campaign in 1935; the dangerous frenzy of the Italian partisans; and the bloody-mindedness of German officers resolved to carry out Hitler's murderous racial policy despite mounting evidence of its futility. The action moves swiftly, with impressive authority, jostling dialogue, vibrant personalities and meticulous, unexpected 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 WWII saga. Agent, Jane Dystel. (Feb. 1) Forecast: This is a worthy successor to high-caliber, crowd-pleasing WWII novels like Corelli's Mandolin or The English Patient. With the publisher firmly behind it-Russell will embark on a 12-city author tour-expect substantial sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
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 God." High school & older.
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