Eclectic Book Club: Thread of Grace
"It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as seemingly overnight it becomes an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive."
Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of characters - a charismatic Italian resistance leader, a priest, an Italian rabbi's family, a disillusioned German doctor. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the vast underground effort of the Italian citizens who saved the lives of 43,000 Jews during the final phase of the war. The result of five years of meticulous research, A Thread of Grace is a novel of ideas and history.