by Mary Doria Russell
How did Italians manage to save the lives of 43,000 Jews in the last 20 months of World War II? Russell's third book, while decidedly more earth-bound than her stellar SF novels, The Sparrow and Children of God, is equally concerned with questions of heaven and earth. Are there crimes for which one can never be forgiven? How far can one go into hell and still come home? A Thread of Grace is a complex tale, with several main characters and dozens of bit characters, as beautifully real as those in Russell's previous novels. (Fans of The Sparrow may see Emilio Sandoz echoed in the character of Renzo Leoni.) The horrors of the war, as well as the unending kindness of the Italians who hid the Jews, are made real by Russell's earthy, glorious writing.